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VOL. I. 


History of the Rise of England as a Maritime Power. With 
Portraits, Illustrations and Maps. 2 vols. Cr. 8vo. i5s. net. 

traits and 12 Maps and Plans. Crown 8vo. 10s. 6d. net. 


Study in Combined Strategy. With 14 Maps and Plans. 
2 vols. 8vo. 215'. net. 

Charts and Diagrams. Svo. 16s. net. 


Svo. 9,r. net. 


London, New York, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. 



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1603 1713 

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AUTHOR OF '.,***', 


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IN TWO VOLUMES '»,\ *;',V 

VOL. L "•..'• '.v: 

WITH A MAP '"' :-^ 

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11 rights reserved 


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V. I 

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The substance of the present work has been given during 

the past year partlj^ in lectures before the Senior and the 

Flag Officers' War Courses at Greenwich, and partly in 

^ the Ford Lectures on English History for 1903 at Oxford. 

^ It is now presented in a complete form on the not 

Z{ inappropriate occasion of the tercentenary of the capture 

"^ of Gibraltar. 

In its present shape it is designed in some measure as 
a continuation of the volumes in which I endeavoured to 
trace the development of the fleet and the naval art, and 
] the history of naval operations under the Tudors. In 
< approaching the Stuart period, however, it seemed wiser 
^ to restrict the field. There can be little doubt that much 
/ that is repellent in our naval histories is due to the vast 
u( arena they attempt to fill. In the effort to be complete 
they swing us to and fro from end to end of the earth, 
till we lose the sense of continuity, fail to seize any 
underlying principles, and sink bewildered in a chaos of 
facts with no apparent connection and no defined pro- 
gression. It is in the seventeenth century that this com- 
plexity begins to make itself felt, and discretion therefore 
suggested the desirability of seeking a leading line of 
development, and following it with as Httle distraction as 

Daring the Stuart period two such lines present them- 
selves — the one our struggle for maritime supremacy with 


the Dutch, and the other the rise of our Mediterranean 
power. Both exactly cover the period in question — from 
the death of Ehzabeth in 1603 to the Peace of Utrecht in 
1713 — and both would serve. But there can be little doubt 
as to which is the more closely woven into the matter 
in hand, and which is of the deeper and more lasting 
interest. The struggle with the Dutch, though at the 
time it absorbed most of the attention and the heaviest 
effort, was, after all, but an episode in our naval history. 
It was an episode, it is true, of the gravest import, but 
with the wisdom of fuller experience we can now see 
that from the essence of things it could only have ended 
in one way. In the Mediterranean, on the other hand, 
we have to deal with a question that is always open, 
with history that we are living to-day, and with conditions 
which continued and remain the most vital preoccupation 
of the higher naval strategy. 

Once to grasp the Mediterranean point of view is to 
be dominated by its fascination. It gives us a light by 
which we see the British Empire standing on the same 
base as did the greatest empires of the past, and buttressed 
by the inviolability of her oceanic position more strongly 
than the most enduring of them all. No less inspiring a 
thought could embolden a student to relate the history of 
the Stuart navy without touching the Dutch w^ars or the 
foundation of our oversea dominions. For this is what 
has been attempted except in so far as those two 
secondary aspects of the time modified or influenced what 
I venture to regard as the primary and central movement. 
The method has at least the advantage of affording us a 
fresh point of view. It is from the standpoint of the 
struggle with Holland and our colonial expansion that 
naval historians, and indeed others, have almost uni- 
versally depicted the time, and it should be no matter of 
surprise if, viewed from the Mediterranean, it assumes 


an aspect in some points so startling in its novelty as to 
arouse a suspicion of mirage. Events which seemed but 
the most trifling episodes appear as hnks in a mighty 
chain, reputations that stood high sink low, and others 
almost forgotten lift their heads, while judgments that 
have long passed into commonplace seem on all sides to 
demand revision. 

Yet I cannot doubt that any one who can frankly clear 
himself of the insular standpoint and view the scene from 
the ancient centre of dominion will see it much as I have 
endeavoured to paint it, and will feel that, seen from any 
other side, its true proportions must be missed and half 
its fascination lost. Nor is this all. For I am bold to 
hope that by this means he will find in Stuart times a 
lamp that w^ill light up much that is dark in later ages, 
that will even touch Nelson with a new radiance, and 
perhaps reveal more clearly why it is that our Mediter- 
ranean Fleet stands to-day in the eyes of Europe as the 
symbol and measure of British power. 

The attempt to show how largely the position of 
England in Europe depended on the possibilities of fleet 
action in the Mediterranean necessarily involves the 
carrying along of an enormous weight of military and 
diplomatic history — history, moreover, that for the most 
part is only to be found in its relation to naval pressure in 
the correspondence of generals, ministers, and diplomatists. 
The majority of historians have ever ignored the naval 
influence except where now and then their attention is 
aroused by the thunder of a great battle. But, more 
often than not, the important fact is that no battle took 
place, and again and again the effort to prevent a collision 
is the controlling feature of widespread political action. 
As a rule, what did not happen is at least as important as 
what did, and it is perhaps mainly due to overlooking 
this truth that history has so largely ignored the sweeping 


change in the European system which accompanied the 
appearance of Great Britain in the Mediterranean. 

So long as we have the sure hand of Dr. Gardiner to 
guide us the difficulty is not so great. Indeed I cannot 
adequately express my sense of obligation to his great 
work. But where it ends the chance of error in the mass 
of undigested correspondence that takes its place becomes 
almost overwhelming. Much guidance to authoritative 
sources is, however, fortunately at hand in the ' Dictionary 
of National Biographj^,' which has infinitely lightened the 
labour, and particularly the articles of Professor Laughton, 
in which he has practically re-written the whole of our 
naval history in a way that few but naval students 
can adequately appreciate. My debt is also great to 
Mr. Firth, who is carrying on Dr. Gardiner's unfinished 
task, and who has generously placed at my disposal some 
invaluable material he has unearthed. Much too is 
owing to the works of Mr. Oppenheim and Mr. Tanner, 
whose ' Calendar of the Pepys MSS.' in Magdalene College, 
Cambridge, I have been permitted to use in proof by the 
kind consent of the Navy Eecords Society. 

Finally my thanks are particularly due to Colonel Sir 
George Sydenham Clarke, K.C.M.G., E.E., from whose 
inspiring suggestions the idea of this work sprung, and 
whom I must gratefully call * the only begetter of these 
ensuing ' pages. 

J. S. C. 

November 1903. 







^^ V. 

\/ VI. 




>^ X. 





<- XV. 

■ XVI. 


XVII r. 

The Mediterranean at the Beginninq of the Seven 

TEENTH Century 
Ward and the Barbary Pirates 
The Duke of Osuna 
Sir Walter Ralegh and Genoa 
England and the Venice Conspiracy 
The Navy under James I. 
The Navy and the Palatinate 
Mansell in the Mediterranean 
Richelieu's Invitation . 
Naval Strategy under Charles I. 
Mazarin and the Mediterranean 
The New Navy .... 

The Campaign against Rupert 
The First Mediterranean Squadron 
The Dutch War within the Straits 
Cromwell and the Mediterranean 
Blake and the Turkish Sea Power 
Cromwell's War with Spain 


















Mvp TO Illustrate British Action in the Mkditerranevn 
from 1603 TO 1713 Frontispiece 




When James I. succeeded Elizabeth, and England was 
still but one of the northern sea-powers, there stood at the 
extremity of the Gibraltar peninsula a sanctuary dedicated 
to Our Lady of Europa. Eounded in an unknown past 
by the INIoors, when Gibraltar Bay was the main inflow of 
Moslem invasion, it had grown in wealth and sanctity 
till, for those whose business was in the great waters, it 
became one of the most revered shrines in Europe. Every 
Catholic ship that passed saluted its miracle-working 
Madonna, and every heretic captain welcomed the glimmer 
of her unfading light that guided him through the Straits. 
Her altar glittered with costly gifts from commanders 
whom she had saved or helped ; and before it hung great 
silver lamps, the offerings of world-renowned admirals, 
whose names symbolise for us the old domination of the 
Midland Sea. There was one from Giannandrea Doria 
himself, who was Don John of Austria's right hand at 
Lepanto ; another from Fabrizio Colonna, of the great 
family of Papal admirals ; a third from Don Martin de 
Padilla, Captain-General of the Galleys of Andalusia, to 
whom, in Cadiz Bay, Drake had first taught the bitter 
lesson of the broadside ship. That lesson was not yet 
fully learnt. Its deepest meaning was still dark. The 
galley powers continued to dominate the Mediterranean, 
and Our Lady of Europa still watched at its gates. But 
1. B 


a clay was coming when the thunder of Northern cannon 
should proclaim, so that all must hear, the truth of what 
Drake and his fellows had taught ; when English seamen 
should la}^ rude hands on the hallowed shrine, and the 
lamps of the Dorias and Colonnas should be loot for the 
officers of Byng and Eooke. The story of how that came 
to pass is the story of the rise of England as a Mediter- 
ranean power. ^ 

The establishment of that power is one of the great 
facts of the seventeenth century. It was a time when 
much was attempted in European politics and almost 
everything failed. But England's bid for the domination 
of the Mediterranean w^as never got rid of, and it may 
perhaps dispute with the rise of Kussia the claim to be 
the greatest and most permanent contribution of that 
strenuous epoch to the history of international relations. 
It is an abiding fact which, rightly seen, gives a living 
glow to a neglected period of naval history — a period 
which seems marked with little but confused and half- 
seen battles in the Narrow Seas with French and Dutch. 
Dazzled with the romantic brilliance with which time and 
literature have clothed the age that preceded it, we seek in 
the new^ period for the same attractions, and seek in vain. 
The great transition from oars to sails and the launching 
of English adventure upon the oceans give the Elizabethan 
days a fascination that none can miss. We have come to 
regard the time as the heroic age of our navy. It had 
indeed something Homeric in its sweep — something that 
makes the men and their arms loom large and dominate 
the events they shaped. But when their work was done 
and they lay at rest amid their trophies, the tale begins 
to move upon another plane ; its meaning and its interest 
are no less deep ; but they must be sought on other lines. 
It is no longer with the great sailors whose romantic 
careers had taught them the secret of the sea that we are 
so much concerned, nor with the details of build and 
armament that went to compose the weapon of their 
choice. In type both ships and guns were already what 
they remained till steam and iron did for sails what sails 
* Lopez de Ayala, Historia de Gibraltar, cap. I, sec. 20. 


had clone for oars. The forging of the weapon and the 
making of the men who were its first masters no longer 
give the note. A deeper and a louder tone is sounding ; 
for before us lie the mighty consequences of what they 
had done, the growth of the new naval science, and 
above all the undreamed-of change it brought about in 
the balance of European power. 

It must always be with a sigh of weariness that we 
turn our backs on the Tudor days to face the colourless 
waste of the early Stuarts. At first sight there is no 
period in our naval history which appears so barren of 
interest or significance as the reign of James I. We 
have come to regard it as a time marked only by the 
decay of the national arm under the blight of what we 
now call Society, and by occasional commissions for its 
reorganisation that were dominated for good and evil by 
the party politics of the hour. There is but one expedi- 
tion to relieve the dreary story of corrupt and inefficient 
administration and the efforts of earnest men to stop the 
downward course, and that expedition in its declared 
object was a contemptible failure. But this is not the 
whole story. There is a natural disposition to measure 
the importance of a phase of naval history in terms of 
the actions that w^ere fought, and to forget that, besides 
being a fighting machine, a powerful navy is also a power- 
ful diplomatic asset. The silent pressure of naval power 
has been well represented as its most potent line of energy, 
and it is in this aspect that the Jacobean period will be 
seen to have been dignified with an event of the deepest 
importance. For that abortive expedition, besides its de- 
clared object, had one which was undeclared and which 
gave the keynote of the century. For it was the 
occasion on which, with the intention of influencing a 
European situation, the navy of England first appeared 
in the Mediterranean. 

When we consider how often since that day the same 
thing has happened, and how often and how profoundly 
it has seemed to control the course of history, it is impos- 
sible not to be stirred by the significance of the event. 
It was the direct and most startling outcome of the 

B 2 


completed transition. For some years men had under- 
stood what the new force meant upon the ocean. They 
had long seen that the strength which lay in the New World 
and in All the Indies must come at last into the hands 
of those who could command the oceanic highways ; but 
it was a new and bewildering revelation to see what a 
change it foreshadowed for the Old World powers that 
lay around the Midland Sea. 

For centuries the destinies of the civilised world had 
seemed to turn about the Mediterranean. Each power 
that had in its time dominated the main line of history 
had been a maritime power, and its fortunes had climbed 
or fallen with its force upon the waters where the three 
continents met. It was like the heart of the world ; and 
even the barbarians, as they surged forward in their 
w^andering, seemed ever to be pressing from the ends of 
the earth towards the same shining goal, as though their 
thirsting hps would find there the fountain of dominion. 
So too the mediaeval emperors, as they sat in the heart 
of Germany, knew they were no emperors till their feet 
were set on its brink, and one after another they exhausted 
their resources in unconscious efforts to reach it. So 
strong w^as its influence that those nations of the North 
whose shores were not washed by its waters seemed to 
lie out upon the fringe of Christendom — barely within the 
pale of European polity. As allies or subjects they might 
modify the action of the central powers by pressure in 
rear or flank ; but, so long as the galley remained supreme, 
the Midland Sea was closed to them, and they could never 
come near enough to the centre of energy to take a com- 
manding line of their own. But now all was changed. 
So soon as it was apparent that the galley, even in its 
ancient home, could not hold its own against the galleon, 
the Mediterranean ceased to be purely the centre of the 
world. It became also a highway into the heart of Europe. 
The strategic points upon which the world's history had 
pivoted so long were suddenly seen to lie open to the 
West, and the outcast fringe of nations, into whose lap 
the oceans were beginning to pour f.n immeasurable 
power, were no longer without the pale. 


It is significant of how bewildering the revolution was 
that the Northern powers were not the first to see what 
it gave them. It was rather the old nations, w^hom it 
robbed of their pre-eminence, whose eyes were first 
opened. From the outset it became an abiding dread of 
Spain that an English or a Dutch sailing fleet would 
enter the Mediterranean and discover its power. Yet 
characteristically it was not Spain who made the first 
steps to meet the new situation. It is true that ever 
since the defeat of the Great Armada she had been trying 
with changing success to create a sailing navy of her own, 
but this was in view of the defence of her Atlantic trade. 
In the Mediterranean she still relied mainly upon the 
galley fleets of her Italian provinces and the maritime 
repul3lics that were her mercenaries. In this way, ever 
since Lepanto, she had been able to dominate her own end 
of the sea. The naval power of the Turk was broken, and 
the piratical states that lay along the north coast of Africa 
had ceased to be a serious danger. Within the Straits 
they could not by themselves contend with the Italian 
galley admirals, and without in the ocean, where the 
richest of the sea-borne trade now passed, they could 
not venture till they had learned the mystery of sails. 
It was they who first saw the opportunity and went to 
school to the English and Dutch. 

In order to grasp the complex effects which arose 
out of the new conditioj>s of maritime warfare, it is first 
necessary to have a clear view of how things stood in the 
Mediterranean. A glance at the map will show that 
strategically it is divided into two nearly equal areas by 
what came to be known as the Two Sicilies — that is, the 
island of Sicily itself, and the southern spread of the 
Italian peninsula, then occupied by the kingdom of 
Naples. In the eastern half and all its ramifications, the 
Turks and Venetians still contended for supremacy, and 
the contest was steadily going against the Christian power. 
Khodes and Cyprus, so long the outposts of western in- 
fluence, had never been recovered to Christendom. The 
effect of the battle of Lepanto had been merely to confine 
the Turkish power to the further half of the sea, and 


this it now dominated with its advanced naval station at 
Navarino on the western shores of the Morea. All that 
remained to check its power were the great island of 
Crete and some other scattered stations, where the decay- 
ing power of Venice still maintained the Cross with ever- 
failing strength. The western half was dominated by 
Spain mainly through her possession of the Two Sicilies. 
Sardinia was also hers. Malta was mider her protec- 
tion, and there were established the dispossessed knights 
of Khodes, still sharing with Venice the honour of hold- 
ing the furthest outposts of Christendom against the 

The Spanish command of the w^estern half, how^ever, 
was not undisputed. The Barbary states, though no 
longer the formidable factor which they had been in the 
days of Barbarossa, were still active upon the sea, and 
from their main strongholds at Tunis and Algiers, both 
within the Spanish sphere, they continually disturbed it 
with their piracies. Indeed, as the Spanish maritime 
strength was slowly exhausted by the struggle with 
England, they had been fast recovering the power which 
Lepanto had shattered. In vain, during the last few 
years of the sixteenth century, the Pope had tried to set 
on foot another Holy League against their devastating 
activity. Spain w^ould not respond, and without her 
nothing effective could be done. In 1601, however, he 
had succeeded. A powerful galley fleet, strong enough to 
have penetrated to Constantinople, w^as got together to 
surprise Algiers. All the Italian states except Venice 
joined Spain in the effort, and the command was again 
given to Giannandrea Doria, the evil genius of Christian 
naval power. As he had shown by his advice to Don 
John of Austria after Lepanto, and on other occasions 
when he was in chief command, he was a past master in 
the art of abortive campaigns, and this time he succeeded 
in doing absolutely nothing. He led his fleet to Algiers 
and brought it back to Messina without having struck a 
single blow. Tw^o more attempts were made in the two 
following years, but with no more success, and the 
Barbary states grew more and more formidable on the 


sea till every shore of the Spanish sphere was scarred 
with the marks of their raids. 

These two main spheres, the Turkish and Spanish, 
which relate chiefly to the struggle between East and 
West, are not the only points of view from which the 
Mediterranean has to be considered. It has a secondary 
strategical aspect which bears more directly upon the 
European situation. From the middle of the sea two 
gulfs run up as it were towards the heart of the Continent, 
on either side of Italy. That on the west, where Genoa 
gave the only direct access to Savoy and the Spanish 
province of Lombardy, was dominated by the ancient 
republic which had been the great condottiere of the sea. 
With the Eiviera and Corsica in her possession she was 
master of the situation, for France was as yet too weak 
upon the Mediterranean to exercise a counterbalancing 
influence from her Proven9al ports. The dominating 
position of the place was fully recognised by the 
strategists of the time. For during^ the interminable 
struggle between Francis I. and Chktles V. victory had 
always seemed to incline to the power that had con- 
trol of Genoa. Though nominally independent, it was 
now practically a Spanish port — the vital point in the 
line of communication which bound Spain to the Austrian 
Hapsburgs and the {Spanish Netherlands through her — , 
possessions in Northern Italy. Eastward of Italy lies the 
Adriatic, or, as it was then generally called, the Gulf of 
Venice ; for Venice still claimed the same kind of right 
over it as did England in the Narrow Seas, and regarded 
it as a mare clausum. Here lay the disturbing factor in 
what would otherwise have been a simple problem of 
East and West. Venice in her semi-oriental spirit was 
usually on fair terms with the Porte. The mainspring 
of her policy was her Eastern trade, and this consideration 
complicated her attitude to the Turks as much as that of 
Spain was complicated by an unwillingness to entirely 
crush a power which, though infidel and hostile, yet served 
as a counterpoise to Venice. For Venice in the Mediter- 
ranean had been the same obstacle to Spanish dominion 
as England had been in the ocean, and, in spite of every 


combination to crush her, her territory still spread a 
barrier between the two halves of the Hapsburg sj^stem 
which were now^ seeking to renew their lost solidarity. 
It was the threat of this family dual alliance, which 
w^ould go far to re-establish the empire of Charles V., 
that was the dominating f%ict in European politics, and 
it was just when its shadow^ was beginning to fall upon 
the nations that through its weak point in the Mediter- 
ranean the new sea power from the Korth was brought 
to bear upon it in a strangely romantic manner. 



Soon after James had come to the throne there \vas 
haunting the alehouses of Plymouth a tattered seafaring 
man, a waif of humanity whose luck had cast him there, 
no one knew whence. His name was Ward, and he was 
said to be a Faversham man, a fisherman probably, who 
had taken to the high seas in the palmy days of privateer- 
ing. He was known for a sullen, foul-mouthed, hard- 
drinking ruffian, who was seldom sober, and who would 
sit at his cups all day long and * speak doggedly, com- 
plaining of his own crosses and cursing other men's luck,' 
quarrelsome too at his drink, yet always ready to take a 
cudgelling rather than fight. His occupation was gone, 
for the King had grown hard on privateering. In his 
eagerness to stand well with Spain and to preserve his 
hasty peace James had issued order after order calling in 
all letters of marque and bidding his seamen even in 
foreign service to return to their country. Deep and 
strong was the cursing all along the coast ; but the orders 
were strictly enforced, and times at last grew so bad with 
Ward that he was forced to take service in the royal navy. 
He shipped aboard his Majesty's pinnace ' Lion's 
Whelp,' then in commission with the Channel Guard. 
But here he was no better content. He was for ever 
grumbling over the hard fare and lack of drink, and 
lamenting the good times that were gone, * when,' as he 
is reported to have said, 'we might sing, swear, drab, and 
kill men as freely as your cakemakers do flies ; when the 
whole sea was our empire where we robbed at will, and 
the world was our garden where we walked for sport.' 
With talk of this kind he set himself to work upon his 


shipmates, till one day, as they lay with the * Golden 
Lion ' at Portsmouth, he hinted to them that he knew a 
way to heal their ills. After much pressure he proceeded 
to tell them that a small bark which lay near them had 
been bought by a Catholic recusant, whose life had grown 
unbearable in England, and who, having sold his lands, 
was shipping all his worldly goods for France. Here he 
showed them their chance. They had but to board her 
suddenly at night, seize the treasure she contained, and be 
in clover again. The plot was soon hatched, some thirty 
of his shipmates agreeing to share the venture. It was 
settled that they should all ask leave for a frolic ashore, and 
then, such was the naval discipline of the time, when night 
came on they could steal off to the bark and help them- 
selves to all they wanted, and the officers would never 
know they were not safe aboard. In an alehouse ashore 
the rascals elected Ward their captain, kneeling round 
him, tankards in hand, and all promised well. But, as 
ill-luck would have it, a friend of the recusant's had been 
struck wiih the ugly look of the gang, and advised him to 
get leave to stow his treasure on board the ' Golden Lion ' 
till a fair wind came to put him beyond their reach. So 
it happened that, when Ward and his band seized the 
bark, they found nothing worth having but the dainties 
which the gentleman had provided for his voyage. On 
these they regaled themselves, cursing their luck and 
their captain till Ward saw them in better humour with 
their feasting. Then he quietly showed them it was im- 
possible to draw back ; there was nothing for it but the 
high seas ; and so he induced them to put out. All that 
was wanted was a ship to serve their turn, and by a clever 
trick he managed to seize one off Scilly. She was a 
Frenchman of eighty tons and five guns. Renaming 
her appropriately the * Little John,' after Eobin Hood's 
heutenant, he put back into Plymouth Sound, and there 
he quickly found enough men of the old stamp to complete 
his crew. Thus equipped, he stood for the coast of Spain. 
Off St. Vincent he picked up another prize. In the Straits 
he got two or three more, and then with his little squadron 
he held away for Algiers. 


To his disappointment, however, the Dey would not 
listen to his overtures. A short time before, a certain 
Captain Gifford, an Englishman in the service of the 
Grand Duke of Tuscany, resenting the Dey's behaviour 
about a prize he had brought in, had recklessly set it on 
fire in the midst of the harbour, and had so nearly suc- 
ceeded in burning the whole Algerian fleet as to make the 
Dey sw^ear vengeance on all Englishmen from that time 
forth. Ward, therefore, hastily retired to find a more 
cordial reception at Tunis. Though here, as at Algiers, 
the Porte was still represented by a Pacha, the practical 
dictator of the place at this time was a Turkish adventurer, 
called Kara Osman, whom the Janissaries had elected 
Bey, and against whom the Pacha was powerless. This 
man Ward was clever enough to gain by promising to 
prey on all Christians except Englishmen and to share 
the profits with him; and on this basis he received 
permission to use the port as his base and commence 

Algiers was not long in following suit. Shortly after- 
wards a famous pirate known as Simon Danzer, Dansker, 
or le Danseur, and already notorious for his depredations 
in all parts of the world, arrived in the Mediterranean 
and was invited by the Dey to enter his service, which he 
agreed to do with the formidable squadron under his 
command. From these two men thus established in the 
most active centres of piracy the Barbary corsairs learned 
the new art of sailing warships, and under their Dutch 
and Enghsh masters progressed with a rapidity that could 
not long be ignored,^ 

' The details of Ward's career are from a work entitled A true and 
certain report of tlio beginning, 'proceedings, overthrows, and noio present state 
of Captains Ward and Dansker, the tico late famous pirates ; from their 
first setting foorth to this present time, published by Andreio Barker, Master 
of a ship, who teas takcJi by the confederates of Ward and by them sometime 
detained prisoner. London, 1G09, -ito. Black Letter (Brit. Mus. C. 27, c. 6). 
Barker, who is careful to give the names of his informants for what he did 
not himself see, is generally confirmed by Father Pierre Dan in his Histoire 
de Barbaric et de ses Corsairs, a work he published in 1G37, after returning 
from a mission to ransom captives at Algiers. Simon Danzer, he says, 
began his Algerian service about IGOG. The date of Ward's mutiny is un- 
certain, but it is clear from Barker's report he must have been at Algiers at 


During the later years of the Elizabethan war the 
Mediterranean from the Archipelago to the Straits had 
rung with the piracies of English merchantmen. Claims 
from all sides, and especially from the Venetians, were still 
being pressed upon James, and, though some of them may 
have been exaggerated or unfounded, there can be little 
doubt that the way roving privateers pressed their rights 
over Spanish goods in neutral ships was not always too 
regular. To have such a man as Ward, therefore, openly 
established at Tunis was an outrage not to be endured, 
and he had hardly been at work a year when the King of 
France found it necessary to send a special mission to 
Tunis to protest against what was going on. His envoy, 
having a firman of the Sultan to back his diplomacy and 
secure him the support of the Pacha, was able to exact 
from Kara Osman a treaty providing that no English 
corsairs should be suffered to use the harbour. 

But Ward was too valuable an ally for the treaty to be 
anything but a dead letter. His depredations continued 
on an ever increasing scale till finally he dared to invade 
the sacred preserve of the Venetians, and crowned his 
reputation by capturing, after a desperate fight, one of 
their renowned galeazze di mercantia. Eor size and 
richness these vessels were hardly second to the famous 
East Indian carracks of Lisbon. Ward's prize was of 
fifteen hundred tons and valued at two millions of ducats. 
At the zenith of his fame the English deserter was now 
living in all the state of a Bey, surrounded by scores of 
obsequious attendants and rolling in riches, so that no 
peer m England, as one who saw him said, ' did bear up 
his post in more dignity.' He armed his great prize and 
sent her out as flagship of his fleet ; but, being overweighted 
with ordnance, she was lost in a storm with Captain 
Croston, his best man, and a hundred and fifty English 
hands. It was the turning point of his fortunes. Ventur- 

least four years before 1609. Dan says the Tunisians learnt the art of sails 
from an Englishman called Edward, but he was probably subsequent to 
Ward. According to Dan, Ward was at Tunis in June 1605 when M. de 
Breues was sent there by Henri IV. on the mission referred to below. {Ibid. 
pp. 165, 274.) Meteren,inhis Hisfoire des Pays Bas, p. 667a, also says that 
Ward was first in the field. 


ing again into the x^driatic to repair the loss, he was met 
by the Gulf squadron consisting of a score of galleys with a 
galleasse at its head, which the Venetians had despatched 
against him and which drove him from his station with 
the loss of two of his ships and a number more of his 
men. So severe was the blow that he had to confine 
himself to vessels trading to Cyprus and Alexandria, 
with gradually declining fortunes. By 1608 he had but 
two ships of his own left, and that year some fifty of his 
men deserted in the ^ Little John.' Osman smelt 
treachery, and it was all Ward could do to save himself 
from disgrace. But so great was his reputation, he was 
soon able to restore his position. The following year he 
was joined by three more English pirate leaders named 
James Bisho;\ Sakell or Sawkeld, and Jennings, and also 
about the same time by the famous Sir Francis Yerney, 
who in the summer of 1608 had sold all that was left 
of his ancestral estates and disappeared beyond the seas. 
Others probably did the same ; at all events, in the year 
after his reverse he was able to equip and man a squadron 
of fourteen sail, and seemed as formidable as ever.^ 

From Algiers Danzer, though not equally fortunate, 
had been equally active, and the Spaniards like the Vene- 
tians found it necessary to take serious steps to protect 
themselves. But, though galleys were well enough to 
keep command of the close w^aters of the Adriatic, they 
were useless against sailing ships in the open seas on 
either side of the Straits. Danzer, treating the coast- 
guard galleys with contempt, had intercepted high officials 
returning from Sicily, and venturing outside the Straits, 
as was the practice of the x^lgerines, he appeared off Cape 
St. Vincent with a mixed squadron of eighteen vessels. 
It was in 1608, just wiien the negotiations for a truce 
with the Dutch gave the Spanish Government breathing 
time, and they proceeded at once to reorganise the whole 
of their sailing navy. The northern or Biscayan division 
was remodelled under the name of the Cantabrian 
Squadron and assigned the duty of receiving the West 

' See Lord Admiral to Salisbury, Aug. 8, 1609, S. P. Domestic, xlvii. 71 ; 
Veniey Papers {Camden Society), 95. 


Indian convoys at the Azores. Thus the galleons of the 
main Ocean Squadron were set free, and Don Luis Fa- 
jardo, who had recently been appointed to the command, 
set to work to form with them a fleet to sweep Danzer and 
Ward from the seas. At the time the King of Spain had 
on foot a great mobilisation of galleys which all Europe 
was watching, and of which no one knew the object, and, 
so long as Ward and Danzer were active, it could not go 
forward. Nothing could be more eloquent of the gravity 
with which the work of these two adventurers was 
regarded, or of the reality of the revolution they were 
working, than that it was found necessary to send against 
them the famous galleons of the Indian Guard with the 
Captain-General of the Ocean Sea at their head. That 
day in June 1609, when Fajardo put out from Cadiz to 
enter the Mediterranean for the first time with a fleet 
of broadside ships, marks a turning-point in naval history, 
and it was directly brought about by a Dutch corsair and 
a handful of deserters from the British navy. 

Fajardo's force consisted of but eight ships of war 
and some light craft, but in Sicily he expected to meet 
a squadron under another famous English adventurer. 
This was Sir Anthony Shirley, the eldest of those three 
renowned brothers whose adventures at the Court of 
Persia were then in every one's mouth. After his failure 
as a privateer in the West Indies in Elizabeth's time he 
had gone under the patronage of Essex on a diplomatic 
mission to the ' Sophy,' and was now returned with his 
visionary brain full of a gigantic European coalition 
against the Turks. After visiting the chief Courts con- 
cerned he had reached Madrid, where, through the active 
furtherance of the Jesuits, he had been received with great 
favour by the weak-minded young King. He even ex- 
pected people to believe, as he wrote in his autobiography, 
that he had been given for his purpose the supreme 
command of the Great Armada that was assembling, and 
whose mobilisation he persuaded himself was due to his 
own energy and influence. The truth seems to be that 
the only commission he ever had from the King was little 
more than that of privateer, with the indefinite title of 


Admiral of the Levant Seas. Indeed his appointment 
would scarcely deserve notice were it not for its signi- 
ficance as a sign of the times. For it was an effort made 
by Spain herself to introduce Enghsh blood into the 
Mediterranean. As it fell out, little came of it. With 
his vague authority Shirley had proceeded to Italy early 
in 1607, and for two years had been wandering from port 
to port trying to get a fleet together and showing a special 
anxiety to induce English seamen to desert their ships 
and join his flag. By the summer of 1609 he had managed 
to form a small squadron, which he boasted to have num- 
bered twenty-three sail and seven thousand men, but 
as yet he had done nothing ; and in spite of his persuasive 
tongue and lavish hand he was beginning to be regarded 
as an impostor. His headquarters were at Palermo, 
where he was living like a Prince in the * Ai'abian Nights,' 
and it was for this port therefore that Fajardo was bound 
in order to effect a junction.^ 

On his way he looked into Algiers, where apparently 
he expected to find Danzer, but he was gone. Weary of 
his employment or alarmed at the extensive naval pre- 
parations in Spain, the object of which was still a secret, 
he had already escaped from the Algerian service and 
shortly afterwards appeared with his squadron at 
Marseilles to make his peace and seek an asylum 
w^ith the French King. Henry IV. was at the time 
absorbed with his vast plans for breaking down the 
threatening Hapsburg system and with a watchful eye 
on the Spanish mobilisation was ready enough to receive 
such men with open arms.- Not finding his man at 

* Meteren, Hist, des Pays Bas, 667b. He says Fajardo sailed ' en 
intention de se joindre a quelques autres navires sous la conduite de 
Thomas Shirleye lesquels il pensait rencontrer a Palermo.' The brothers 
were often confused, but Thomas is not known to have been out of England 
at this tmie. See The Sherlcy Brothers (Eoxburghe Club). On Sep- 
tember 9, 1609, Anthony wrote that he was al)out to start for an unknown 
destination from Palermo with twenty-three ships and seven thousand men. 
In November he was said to have seven ships and to have done nothing. 
Ibid. p. 71. 

- Meteren {Histoire des Pai/s Bas, 709a) says he was appointed Con- 
voyeur or ' Wafter ' of the French Levant convoy, and that while so serving 
he landed near Tunis, where he was captured and murdered in prison. 


Algiers, Fajardo took a cast up to Sardinia, on his way to 
effect his junction with Sir Anthony Shirley. There he 
fell in with a small squadron, which had been organised 
by a Frenchman of the old crusading stamp, and which 
deserves remembrance as the first recorded symptom that 
France too was stirred by the new^ movement. It was 
the Sieur de Beaulieu, a Poitevin gentleman, who, fired 
by the miseries of his fellow-countrymen on the seas, had 
fitted out at Havre a galleon and a pinnace as a scourge 
for piracy. He, or rather his captain, De Tor, had met 
already with considerable success and had apparently been 
joined by other vessels from Marseilles. From this man 
Fajardo heard that Danzer had been already received into 
the French service, and that it was useless to seek him 
further. The Frenchman, however, proposed that they 
should make a dash upon Tunis, and destroy the squadron 
that Ward, Bishop, Verney, and Kara Osman had gathered 
there for a cruise against the American treasure fleet. 
The proposal somewhat staggered Fajardo, who regarded 
the operation as impracticable, at least without the 
assistance of Shirley's squadron. On the Frenchman 
protesting, however, that he had been about to do it alone, 
Fajardo came round. Together they suddenly appeared 
in the Goleta, and there they found a squadron of war- 
ships almost' ready for sea, some of which were of seven 
hundred tons, besides unarmed prizes, over thirty sail in 
all. They were lying under the guns of the fort, but the 
light craft were sent in at once, covered by the fire of the 
combined fleet. The result was a complete justification 
of the Frenchman's daring. The anchorage lay five 
leagues from the city, and, long before succour could arrive, 
the French and Spanish boats had fired the whole of the 
ships except two that they brought out.'^ 

There was aEother story, followed by Motley, that he was assassinated in 
Paris by a merchant he had robbed ; but Meteren's account is supported by 
a letter of July 1611, from the Viceroy of Sicily to Philip III., saying he had 
been recently executed by Kara Osman in Tunis — a report which the 
Viceroy confirmed in April the following year. See Documentos In4diios, 
xliv. 104, 224. 

• This is the account civen by Meteren, ojJ- cit. p. 667c, who prohably 
had it from a French : ource. See Dan, Hist, de Barbarie, 1637, p. 169 ct 


It was the heaviest blow that the pirates had received 
since Lepanto, and all Christendom rang w^ith the exploit. 
Indeed, so entire was the satisfaction in Spain that she 
did nothing in the Mediterranean to complete the work, 
Instead of being allowed to proceed with the powerful 
force at his command, Fajardo was recalled to Cartagena 
where the great galley fleet collected from all parts of 
the Spanish sphere was now completely mobilised. For 
months its gathering had been watched with growing 
anxiety from London to Venice, and at last its object 
was apparent. It was what has always been regarded 
by foreigners as one of the great mistakes of Spanish 
history that was on foot — the famous expulsion of the 
Moriscos. The descendants of the old Moorish popula- 
tion then formed an element that was unrivalled in the 
dominions of Spain for wealth, energy, and culture. Yet 
they were heretics, and the influence of the Church was 
sufficient to brand them as a danger and to force upon 
the King the heroic remedy of expelling them in mass. 
So, instead of crushing the reviving sea power of the 
Moslems in the bud, Fajardo w^as employed in carrying 
to Barbary tens of thousands of Spanish subjects, to give 
a new impetus to the wealth and activity of the predatory 
states. It is possible that Shirley too was employed in 
the same field ; he certainly struck no blow against the 
corsairs to mend his broken reputation. It w^as not till 
the following year that he hazarded an attempt, and then 
it was only to make a cruise in Turkish waters with 
results so feeble as to bring him into irretrievable con- 
tempt. In a vain hope of restoring his position he made 
his way back to Madrid, and there gradually sank into 
poverty and senility, associating w^ith fugitive English 
Catholics, vapouring to the end, with his head as high as 
ever, of the vast schemes he had on foot, and teasing the 
Spanish Government with fantastic designs to crush the 
naval power of his own abandoned country. 

The immediate effect of the Moriscos' expulsion was 
as disastrous as it was unforeseen. It led at once to the 

scq. Spanish authorities seem, however, to ignore the French squadron and 
give the whole credit to Fajardo. See Duro, Armada Esjjanola, iii. 324. 
I. C 


rise of Salee as a pirate port, and its launch upon its 
sinister career. Hitherto the Moslem corsairs had been 
practically confined to ports within the Straits, so that 
until the coming of Danzer the ocean trade had been 
fairly free from danger. But in a few months the 
Spaniards found that a number of their wealthy exiles 
had established a naval port on the ocean, buying and 
hiring ships from the North, till the seas about the mouth 
of the Straits began to swarm with corsairs more active, 
determined, and well equipped than those of Tunis and 
Algiers themselves. In vain they seized El i^raish as a 
counterstroke ; in vain they tried to block the neighbour- 
ing ports ; all was useless. The galleons of the ocean 
had more than they could do to keep the Moriscos in 
check, and within the Straits the power of the corsairs 
was left to grow^till, two years after Fajardo's victory, the 
seas of the Spanish, sphere were almost impassable for 
trade, and its shores w^ere being ravaged from end to 



It is at this moment that a new figure appears upon the 
scene, who was destined to save the situation for Christen- 
dom and to mark the second step in the Mediterranean 
transformation as Ward had marked the first. This man 
was Don Pedro Tellez Giron, third Duke of Osuna, a 
personahty as far removed from the melodramatic Eng- 
lish pirate as could well be conceived. Son of a viceroy 
of Naples and a grandee of Spain, he had been carefully 
educated at his father's court for a public career. He 
was a ripe Latin scholar, was deeply read in history, and, 
on leaving the University of Salamanca at the end of 
1588, had distinguished himself by composing and re- 
citing a funeral ode to the Invincible Armada. Having 
succeeded early to his rank and estates, he had gone, 
in 1602, as the fashion was, to serve his apprenticeship 
to war at the siege of Ostend. The Homeric contest 
between Ambrogio Spinola and Sir Francis Yere had 
earned for itself the name of the first school of arms in 
Europe, and thither young gentlemen ambitious of a 
soldier's reputation flocked, as scholars did to the uni- 
versities of Bologna or Padua. So high was his rank 
that no post sufficiently exalted for him to accept could 
be found vacant in the Spanish army. He therefore had 
to content himself with serving as a volunteer, and in this 
capacity he attached himself to Spinola's brilliant brother, 
Frederigo, with whom he had already formed a close 
friendship in Madrid. 

It was a chance big with consequence. For it must 
have been in the strenuous young Admiral's company 
that he learnt those ideas on the importance of maritime 

c 2 


power which Frederigo had so urgently pressed upon 
the Spanish Government, and of which he himself was 
destined to be so loud an exponent. And more than 
this. His first naval action sufhced to make him a 
convert to the new system against which his chief spent 
his life in vain resistance. For his introduction to 
warfare was to be present in that last fight amid the 
Zeeland shoals in which Frederigo fell, and in which, 
as the Dutch medal boasted, ' the ships made an end of 
the galleys.' ^ The impression made upon his mind was 
one he never forgot. It opened his eyes to the great 
secret ; and though in Spain the action was trumpeted as 
a victory Osuna read its real meaning. From his chief 
living he had learnt how dominion lay on the sea, and 
from his death he had learnt how alone that dominion 
could be won. 

The following year he seized the opportunity of the 
peace rejoicings in London to go over and study the 
English navy. There he w^on James's heart by the 
beauty and w^it of his Latin conversation, for he had 
spoken the language fluently since he was nine years 
old.^ Osuna's opinion of the King was not so flattering. 
* If King James,' he said to the Spanish Ambassador, 
' were less of a pedant and more of a politician, there 
w^ould have been no peace.' Refusing any official posi- 
tion he was able to pursue his inquiries in freedom, and 
by his native sagacity quickly got at the root of the 
principles by which Hawkins and Drake had made the 
navy what it was. Returning to Flanders to complete 
his military education as a commander of horse, he let 
no opportunity slip of learning from Dutch and French 
authorities all he could on the subject of which his mind 
was full. Having served with great distinction, especially 
at the relief of Groll, where he crippled his right hand, he 
returned to Spain when the armistice was proclaimed in 
1607. There he found a most flattering reception await- 

* The Successors of Drake, cap. xvi. 

2 Gregorio Leti gives an interesting account of how, with a view to 
diplomacy, he was taught Latin, between the ages of seven and nine, entirely 
from the Colloqides of Erasmus, without grammar or dictionary. 


ing him, and received shortly afterwards a seat in the 
Privy Council and the Order of the Golden Fleece. 

It was not, however, till some three years later that 
the opportunity came for making himself heard. The 
question of the appointment of a new viceroy for Sicily 
came before the Council, and Osuna seized the occasion to 
point out the high strategical importance of the island for 
the command of the Mediterranean and to speak his mind 
upon the shameful condition into which it had neverthe- 
less been allowed to fall by the neglect of its naval forces. 
He showed that within the last thirty years the corsairs 
had landed and made havoc on its shores over eighty 
times, and that under existing conditions there was no 
prospect of an improvement. The Moslem forces at 
Tunis and Algiers wTre on the spot, while those of Spain 
were far away, and things were going from bad to worse. 
As it was, he said, the King was only sovereign of the 
territory which the guns of his forts could cover. * The 
new Viceroy you are going to appoint,' he cried, * will 
only go to be a spectator of the same things ; he will only 
go as a Court newsman to record landings, burnings, and 
assaults.' Such a condition of affairs, he protested, could 
not continue, and there were but two courses by which it 
could be stopped — the King must either pay the corsairs 
blackmail to leave the island in peace, or else make it the 
centre of such a naval force as would suffice from the com- 
manding position it occupied to sweep them from the seas. 
It was seldom a King of Spain heard such home truths at 
his council.table, and Osuna's prompt reward or punish- 
ment was that he received the appointment himself.' 

It was in the spring of 1611 that he took up his 
memorable command. On his arrival he found assem- 
bling at Messina the whole available force at the Spanish 
disposal in the Italian seas — twelve galleys of the 

• Osuna's career may be followed in Captain Fernandez Duro's El gran 
Diique de Osima y su marijia (Madrid, 18S5), and in the third volume of 
his Armada Espafiola. A long series of documents relating to his Vice- 
royalty are in vols. xliv. to xlvii. of the Documentos Iniditos. The earliest 
authority is an Italian Life of him, by the Milanese historian, Gregorio 
Leii, published in 1G99, from whom I have taken the details of his youthful 


Xeapolitan squadron, ten more from Genoa, five from 
Malta, while Sicily itself furnished seven — in all thirty- 
four, and others were expected from the Pope. In 
command was the Marquis of Santa-Cruz, son of the 
original commander-in-chief of the Great Armada, and 
almost the only galley admiral in the Spanish service 
who had not disgraced himself during the English war. 
It was his intention, with the powerful force at his 
disposal, to make a raid on the Barbary coast to secure a 
supply of galley-slaves. By September he managed to get 
ready for sea and make a dash for the Kerkenna Islands in 
the Gulf of Gabes, but he got possession of them only with 
considerable loss, and returned with five hundred wretched 
Arab fishermen and peasants to show for his costly cam- 
paign. To such a depth had naval warfare sunk in the 
Mediterranean under the inriuence of Giannandrea Doria. 
More deeply confirmed in his ideas than ever by what 
he saw, Osuna w^as already at w^ork. Pending arrange- 
ments for beginning a sailing squadron, he laid down two 
galleys of his own, which he might use as he liked, to 
make a demonstration of his views. One thing he was 
bent on improving was the position of seamen. He had 
seen in England the effect of what Hawkins had brought 
about by persuading the Government to improve the pay 
and diet of naval crews, and in health, vigour, and dis- 
cipline his vessels quickly became a shameful example 
to the King's. So remarkable was the influence of his 
reforming energy that he persuaded the Provincial 
Parliament to give him an extraordinary subsidy, with 
which he fitted out four more of the time-honoured craft. 
By the spring of 1612 he thus had six efiicient galleys at 
his disposal, and with these he proceeded to hit his first 
direct blow. It fell on KabiHa, the nearest Tunisian port 
to Sicily, which his admiral, Don Otavio de Aragon, took 
and burnt. Eeturning to Sicily with his captured slaves, 
Don Otavio joined Santa-Cruz at Trapani at the west 
end of the island, and thence made a dash at Tunis itself. 
He had learned that the corsairs, having recovered from 
Fajardo's punishment, were again fitting out a strong 
squadron for a direct attack on the Spanish West Indian 


convoy. The surprise was an entire success. Kinc or 
ten vessels were burnt at their moorings and some brigan- 
tines or small galleys captured. The blow was followed 
up by a productive cruise to the eastward. It was 
clear a new spirit was abroad, and the corsairs, stung to 
fury, resolved to nip it in the bud by a crushing blow upon 
Osuna's headquarters at Messina. With a powerful mixed 
fleet of ships and galleys, they too attempted a night 
surprise ; but Osuna had already succeeded in bringing 
his influence to bear on the rabble of desperadoes and 
broken officers who regarded the Sicihan service as their 
Alsatia, and the pirates were flung back with the loss 
of two ships, two galleys, three galleots, and some five 
hundred men. 

The following spring the campaign opened equally 
energetically with an attempt to surprise Bizerta, where 
the corsairs, taught by bitter experience the vulnera- 
bility of Tunis as a naval station, were establishing a 
new one, with large docks and magazines, in anticipation 
of the latest French ideas. It is interesting to note that 
the place was found impregnable, though subsequently 
Don Otavio captured and destroyed Cherchel to the west 
of Algiers.^ Later in the year, while cruising again to the 
eastward for intelligence of a large Turkish fleet reported 
to be at ^ e i, he heard that a squadron of ten galleys had 
been detached to collect tribute in the Archipelago. These 
he sought out and found between Chios and Samos. 
Though inferior in numbers he was secure in the superior 
efficiency which Osuna's system gave him, and attacked 
without hesitation, with the result that he took five 
hundred prisoners, freed over a thousand Christian slaves, 
and brought back to Messina the Turkish flag-galley and 
six others as trophies of his victory. 

It was as though Frederigo Spinola's spirit was stir- 
ring again, and galvanising the old system into new life. 
One exalted Spanish officer wrote enthusiastically to 

' Captain Fernandez Duro says the attack on Bizerta was successful 
and puts it in the preceding year {Ai^iada Espaiiola, iii. 337). I have, 
however, followed Don Otavio de Aragon's own account of his exploits. 
See Documcntos Iniditos, xlv. 88. 


Philip that such galleys and such organisation had never 
been seen, and that Osuna's assiduous study of the art of 
war from its grammar upwards showed what a master of 
it he had become. This was true enough. His work, so 
far, was only preliminary to the main idea which his 
mastery of the art of war had taught him. \Yhat he 
had done wdth galleys he believed he could do fourfold 
with ships. Still, a sailing Heet was not yet to be had. 
Fajardo wdth his ocean galleons was busy with Salee, 
seizing the port of Mehdia close to it, and watching a 
Dutch squadron which w^as hovering on the coast. The 
Dutch were already beginning regularly to pohce the 
Straits, and Evertsen their admiral was suspected of 
intending a seizure himself. Yet Osuna saw no reason 
for delaying a more vigorous offensive, which his master 
Spinola and his studies of Enghsh methods had taught 
him to be the other great secret of naval warfare. He 
had already laid down two galleons which he meant to 
be the missionaries of his faith, and^ taking a leaf out of 
the pirates' book, had secured the services of some French 
corsairs, the chief of w^hom was a Korman captain, the 
notorious Jacques Pierre. While under their direction 
he was bringing his ships to completion, he began urging 
on the Government at Madrid that, having seen what a 
mere handful of efficient and well-led galleys could do, 
the King of Spain should undertake a real campaign to 
finally crush the Moslem sea power. In answer to his 
appeal the Government sent him a score of galleys under 
Prince Philibert of Savoy, w^ho for political reasons had 
just been made Captain-General of the Galleys of Spain, 
in sucr3Ssion to Dona. With those of Italy he mustered 
a fleet of fifty-five at Messina — big enough, as Osuna 
thought, to turn the Turks and corsairs out of every nest 
they held. But when he saw how^ Philibert's galleys 
contrasted with his own, his hopes fell. The Spanish 
taint was upon them all, and little could be expected. 
Even as Philibert lay immovable at Messina, the Turkish 
fleet made a raid on Malta under his very nose. It was 
from Xavarino they had come, and a brilliant and suc- 
cessful reconnaissance of the port followed, dui:ing which 


the two Egyptian flag-galleys were captured just outside. 
Full information of the Turkish movements was thus 
obtained. Philibert followed with his whole force, and 
then, quite in the style of Doria, finding no heart to 
attack or ability to maintain a blockade, he returned to 
Messina without firing a shot. 

From that moment Osuna washed his hands of the 
King and his galleys, and resolved thenceforth to play his 
own game. In Flanders he had seen the little Dutch 
ships lying off the Spanish ports week after week and 
month after month, and closing them up, and here w^ere 
all the King's galleys unable to watch a single harbour. 
By every device in his power he tried to get the Govern- 
ment to build him a little fleet of sailing vessels that he 
might show his master how the work should be done. 
ks yet there was not sufficient confidence in the Northern 
notions, and the scheme fell through. Still, his own two 
galleons were ready, one of forty-six guns and the other 
of twenty, with a pinnace to attend them, and he sent 
them boldly into Egyptian w^aters. There they immedi- 
ately captured a squadron of ten transports on their way 
from Alexandria to Constantinople. But so far from 
assisting him to get the sailing ships which he was 
begging of the King, his success only won him a repri- 
mand. There was an old regulation forbidding any royal 
officer to fit out sailing ships for privateering. Osuna 
had technically broken it, and that was enough for 
Madrid. In vain he urged the importance of blockade, 
and of being able to keep the sea in w^inter ; in vain he 
reminded his master that, unless he commanded the sea, 
he could never command the land. He pointed to the 
English ships still at Tunis, against which his galleys 
w^ere useless, and argued that the unhappy regulation had 
been made before the corsairs had learnt to use broadside 
ships. 'When your Majesty,' he wrote, 'issued the order 
that "round-ships" were not to be used, they did not 
know in Barbary so much as what a tartan was, and now 
Tunis alone has sent out more than eight-and-forty great 
ships.' All was useless. The Government, suspicious and 
conservative as ever, was inexorable. 


But Osuna was not to be deterred. In 1616 his 
services were recognised by his promotion to the vice- 
royalty of Naples, and thence he continued his exertions. 
By the spring, besides five new galleons nearly completed 
— the ' Five Wounds ' he called them — he had ready for 
sea a squadron of five other ships averaging over thirty- 
five guns and a large pinnace. All were equipped and 
organised on English lines. The sailors w^ere no longer 
the mere drudges of the ship's company, but had been 
raised more to the standing of the soldiers, in berthing, 
food, clothing, and pay. Equally important was his bold 
reform in abolishing the dual captaincy, which was the 
curse of the Spanish service. Instead of a captain of the 
soldiers and a captain of the seamen, he appointed one 
officer who, as in England, had command of the wdiole 
ship. At the same time he imitated, and even went 
beyond, the English system of concentrating the main 
fighting power of the ships in their batteries. They 
became like the Northern warships in principle mobile 
gun-carriages, instead of relying for their offensive power 
chiefly upon marine infantry. In some of his latest 
galleons the gunners even outnumbered the ordinary sea- 
men, and guns were carried of a heavier calibre than any 
admitted in the British navy. Indeed, so heavily were his 
vessels armed that it would seem the low^er tiers could only 
be used in the finest weather ; but this was a defect by no 
means unknown in the fleets he had taken as his model. ^ 

• For details of Osuna's fleet as finally constituted, see Documentos 
Ineditos, xlvi. 503. His latest and largest galleon was * Nuestra Sefiora de 
la Concepcion,' of 6,000 salmas burden, which was about the same size as 
the 'Prince Eoyal ' of 1,200 tons, the latest addition to the British navy 
(Guglielmotti, La Marina Pontificia, iv. 313, vii. 293). A comparison of 
their armament (by the light of Norton's Usual Table for English Ord- 
nance, 1628) shows clearly Osuna's exaggeration of the new ideas. 

' Concepcion ' ' Prince Eoyal ' 

2 50-pounders 2 cannon-perriers, 24-pounders. 

14 35 „ 6 demi-cannon, 30 „ 

30 25 „ 12 culverin, 15-20 

2 demi-culverm 18 demi-culverin, 9-11 „ 

2 perriers 13 sakers, 5 „ 

The * Prince Royal ' also carried four small breech-loading pieces ; the 
secondary armament of the ' Concepcion ' is not given. Thus the ' Con- 


There remained the difiiculty of finding an admiral. 
In Osuna's service was one Francisco de Kibera, a half- 
pay ensign, but what experience of the sea he had had, 
if any, we do not know. His seamanship may safely ])e 
set down to Jacques Pierre's tuition. In this man Osuna 
was destined to find the hand he wanted, and his was to 
be the distinction of being the first sailing admiral in the 
Mediterranean.^ In the early part of the previous winter 
the corsairs' ships had swarmed so thick in the Neapolitan 
seas that trade had been brought to a standstill. Osuna 
in desperation had sent out Eibera with a galleon of 
thirty-six guns. He was at once attacked by two corsairs 
of superior force, but after a five hours' fight he beat them 
off at nightfall, and they would not await his invitation 
to renew the action next day. Passing on to Trapani he 
picked up his pinnace and two other vessels, ran across 
to Tunis, and cut out two ships from under the guns of 
the Goleta forts. ^ For Osuna this was enough. Eibera was 
given the command of the six vessels that were ready 
and sent off eastward to watch the Turkish galley fleet. 
As he was watering at Cyprus he heard that the Turkish 
Admiral was looking for him with forty-five galleys. 
Only too ready to be found, Ribera awaited their approach 
off Cape Celidon. On July 14 the Turks were seen 
approaching, and then was fought the battle which finally 
opened men's eyes to what Osuna was doing. For three 
days it raged, and every morning the Turks renewed the 
attack with increasing desperation. But all in vain. 

cepcion ' was a 50-gun ship (counting only the heavy muzzle-loading 
pieces, or ' ladle ' pieces, as the Italians called them), and the ' Prince ' was 
a 51-gun ship. But it will be seen that the weight of metal in the ' Con- 
cepcion ' was far the heavier. 

As to crews, the ' Concepcion's ' complement was 54 oflBcers and gentle- 
men, 66 gunners, 00 mariners, and 20 boys, or 200 in all. The normal 
complement of such a ship in England would be at least 500 men, of whom 
40 would be gunners, 340 mariners, and 120 soldiers. The crew of the 
' Concepcion ' would probably be filled up with soldiers, who perhaps 
assisted in working the guns in the same way that the mariners did in the 
English service. 

' Osuna had married Donna Catarina Henriquez de Ribera, daughter of 
the Adelantado-Mayor of Andalusia, but Francisco is not stated to have 
been her relation. 

* JJocuffmntos Iniditos, 303. 


So crushing was Eibera's fire and so well disposed his 
vessels, that the galleys could never board, and during 
the third night they retired cut to pieces, leaving Eibera 
triumphant on the field he had chosen. Doubtless much 
of the success should be put to the credit of Jacques 
Pierre, whom Osuna began to treat with a familiar 
intimacy that shocked Spanish notions of propriety, but 
Eibera was the hero of the hour.^ 

The victory made the profoundest impression from 
the first. Irregular as it was, even the Spanish Court 
had to recognise it ; and in spite of its having been fought 
under Osuna's private flag, contrary to the standing order 
against which he had protested in vain, Eibera w^as given 
the rank of Admiral and the coveted Cross of Santiago. 
Still it can hardly have been with unmixed satisfaction 
that the Spanish ministers contemplated the new force 
that Osuna had generated. The skill that gave it life was 
from the North, and not their own. If Osuna's success 
had been great against the time-honoured w-eapon of the 

^ How Eibera managed to beat off so overwhelming a force is uncertain. 
He certainly divided his squadron into two groups, two vessels in reserve 
and the rest as a main body, but the formation of this group is not clear. 
Captain Duro says he formed them uniendo las cuatro, proa con popa, 
cihendo el viento con trinquete y gavia, as though they were close-hauled 
under fore-courses and main top-sails in line abaad. If so, Eibera must 
have been quite in the first rank of his art ; for up to this time there is no 
perfectly clear account of an action fought line ahead in close order. But, 
although Captain Duro's authority is very high, Eibera's despatch seems 
hardly capable of bearing the weight he places on it. Eibera says : ' When 
I saw them (the enemy) I made signal for the vessels to close [de jzcntar 
bajeles) : having closed, I struck all sail and gave them orders that the vice- 
flagship, the " Carretina," and the "Urqueta " should keep together always ; 
and if it were a dead calm se diese cabo por los costados tres,^ an expression 
which is far from clear. However, it was not calm ; and after detailing his 
other orders, he proceeds : ' These orders given, I made sail towards the 
Armada, and coming within cannon shot I furled sails except the foresail 
and main top-sail so as not to hinder the vessel being steered.' As there 
was wind on each day, the obscure order issued in view of a calm may 
be discarded. It seems Eibera kept steerage way the whole time, and in his 
advance he says : ' To me puse en cuerno dereclio di mio bajeles y los lleve 
juntos como pudicron o si fueron Galeras.' That is, ' I took my station on 
the extreme right of my vessels, and kept them as close as they could go, 
or as though they were galleys,' which seems to indicate nothing but the 
old line abreast. 


Mediterranean, it only emphasised the growing anxiety for 
what it would mean should the Northern sea powers choose 
to assert themselves within the Straits ; and it was while 
the poets were still singing Kibera's victory that the 
Spanish Government found itself face to face with the 
contingency they had so long dreaded. 



To grasp the significance of the new situation it is 
necessary to turn for a moment to the state of Europe, as 
Eibera's shattered ships Hmped home from their victory. 
Ten 5^ears had not passed since the truce between Spain 
and HoUand had ended the old wars in which EHzabeth 
and Phihp II. had been the dominant figures, and 
already the nations were grouping themselves for that 
still mightier contest which in the name of religion 
was to scourge and rend the face of Europe for thirty 
years. On the Catholic side was seen the renewal of 
the old relations between the Spanish and Austrian 
branches of the Hapsburgs. Spain and the Empire were 
again in close alliance, and all there was to prevent their 
complete solidarity was on the one side Savoy, pressing 
upon the Lombard possessions of Spain and threatening 
the security of her submissive servant, Genoa ; on the 
other Venice, planted astride the direct line of communi- 
cation between the King of Spain and the Emperor, and 
entirely dominating the ports at the head of the Adriatic 
where the Empire touched the sea. As for the Protes- 
tants, a great league seemed to be forming round the 
British throne. Since the Princess of England had 
married the Elector Palatine, James I. had come to 
be recognised as the head of the Eeformation, and he, 
with a well-meant intention of averting the threatening 
outbreak, was endeavouring to make a match between the 
Prince of Wales and the Spanish Infanta. The negotia- 
tions were going far from briskly, and even James could 
Qot conceal from himself that his efforts might fail. Like 
Elizabeth, therefore, he was not averse to preparing for a 


rainy day by adding to his resources, while at the same 
time he spurred the reluctance of the Spanish Court by 
letting it feel the sting of his sea power. In English 
eyes the tender spot, which had been whipped so sore in 
the old days, was still the Indies and the Atlantic 
convoys, and Sir Walter Ealegh survived as the personi- 
fication of the bygone policy. Ever since the accession 
he had been lying in the Tower. He was now released 
and was soon busy preparing an expedition which many 
believed was intended to revive the wild work of Drake's 
young days. It was certainly the hope and intention of 
Ealegh's anti-Spanish supporters that it should. The 
King, as certainly, was actuated by a desire to fill his 
empty coffers by peaceful discoveries and to jog the King 
of Spain's memory as to w^hat a hostile England meant. 
It was exactly under these conditions that, forty years 
before, Drake had been allowed to sail on his famous raid 
into the Pacific. 

But there were onlookers who saw a little more of the 
game. While the heirs of the Elizabethans were living 
still on the oceanic tradition, others had been watching 
w^hat Ward and his like had been able to achieve for the 
corsairs in the Mediterranean, and the power they had 
driven Osuna to develop in self-defence. These men, 
the arch-intriguers of Europe, weary of the eternal repe- 
tition of the old moves, were hugging themselves with 
delight at the sight of a new piece on the board that bid 
fair to change the whole game. It w^as no longer only 
for the extremities of his vast empire that the King of 
Spain need tremble. Deep in the vitals of his system 
they saw two points that were as much exposed to the 
action of the new power as his wide-spreading limbs. It 
was no longer a question of Cadiz and the Spanish 
Main, but of those old focal points of European polity, 
Genoa and Venice. 

At both points the inw^ard pressure of the two halves 
of the Hapsburg dominion had caused an eruption of 
hostilities. It was in the ever active crater of Savoy that 
the first explosion had occurred, and although in 1615 the 
Spanish Governor of Milan had found it necessary to 


come to an accommodation with his insignificant enemy, 
his chiefs at Madrid could not sit quiet mider the humiha- 
tion of the peace to which he had committed them. He 
was recalled, and a hard-bitten veteran, Don Pedro de 
Toledo, Marquis of Villafranca, sent out in his place with 
a barely concealed intention that he should pick a new 
quarrel.^ The turbulent Duke of Savoy, with his eyes 
always fixed on Genoa, was ready enough with French 
and English encouragement to begin again ; and thus a 
kind of semi-official war was raging between him and the 
Spanish Governor of the Milanese. At the same time 
Venice was fighting Ferdinand of Styria, the heir-pre- 
sumptive of the Austrian house of Hapsburg and the 
actual ruler of that portion of its dominions which 
stretched down to the Venetian frontier, feeling for the 
sea at Trieste and the other little ports of Carniola. 
Thus Savoy and Venice were engaged in what was in 
fact a joint struggle against the new Hapsburg alliance, 
and the two wars had fused into one. So galling, indeed, 
became the action of the Venetians on the eastern 
frontier of Milan that Don Pedro de Toledo, when 
Osuna's fleet was about to sail against the Turks, had 
begged him to employ it in making a diversion against 
the Venetians instead. Osuna, bent on first forcing back 
the Moslems, had refused; but since Eibera's brilliant 
victory his hands were free, and moreover there were new 
and urgent reasons for compliance. 

John of Barneveld, who was now the virtual dictator 
of Holland, with his usual broad perception, saw clearly 
where the keys of the great Catholic combination lay, 
and towards the end of the year 1616 news had reached 
Madrid that a powerful Dutch squadron with four thousand 
troops on board, under Count Ernest of Nassau, was about 
to sail for the Mediterranean, intended for the service of 

' Don Pedro was at this time in his sixtieth year. He had served 
under Don John of Austria and Parma in the Netherlands, under the 
elder Santa-Cruz at Terceras in 1582, and had filled successively all the 
high naval offices in Spain, as Captain-General of the galleys of Naples, 
of the galleys of Spain, and of the Ocean Sea. To him also had been con- 
fided the chief direction of the expulsion of the Moriscos. See Documentos 
InMitos, xcvi. p. 4, note. 


either Savoy or Venice. During the summer the Count 
had offered his services to the Signory of the KepubHc, and 
they had obtained permission from the States for him to 
levy three thousand men and sufficient transport to carry 
them to Venice. By the end of November they were all 
embarked and were waiting for a wind in the Texel and 
Brill. ^ The dreaded hour had come and the anxiety at 
Madrid was profound. During December despatch on 
despatch in duplicate and triplicate was sent to the Italian 
viceroys, telling them that at all costs the Dutch must 
not be allowed to enter the Adriatic, while Santa-Cruz 
was ordered to Gibraltar to stop them there. But Osuna 
could do little or nothing. His old ships were not yet 
recovered from the mauling of their three days' fight at 
Cyprus, and the new galleons were not yet ready for sea. 
As for doing anything with the galleys, he protested 
it was impossible to stop sailing ships with oared craft 
in winter, and presently came fresh orders that he 
was not to try. Osuna was to direct all his efforts to 
reinforcing his colleague at Milan with troops, and to 
confine his naval action to closing all the South Italian 
ports so soon as the Dutch had passed, in order to cut off 
the Venetian food supplies. All Naples and Sicily were 
resounding with preparations for the rescue of Milan and 
the relief of Gradisca, Ferdinand's frontier fortress at the 
head of the Adriatic, which the Venetians were besieging, 
and Osuna urged more strenuously than ever the necessity 
of sailing ships for the work he had been set to do. Face 
to face with its helplessness the Spanish Government 
was at last convinced. The Council of State sat solemnly 
on Osuna's despatches and resolved that he was right. 
* Finally,' so their resolution ran, ' we are of opinion that 
it will be well to write to the Duke in appreciation of his 
zeal, and that it will be of more use and pertinence to 
spend money in fitting out broadside ships as being the 
best to resist the enemy, seeing that they themselves 
employ that kind of vessel ; because galleys are of small 
service except in anticipation of a large galley Armada, 
of which there is now no question.' Thus at last did the 
» Carldoii Letters, pp. 54, 9G, 101. 
I. D 


inert Spanish Government declare its first official recogni- 
tion of the naval revolution to w^hich for years it had so 
obstinately shut its eyes.^ 

But the danger did not end with Holland. There 
was more and worse behind. Ralegh's expedition was 
slowly approaching completion. In vain Gondomar, the 
Spanish Ambassador in London, had exhausted his almost 
hypnotic influence over the King in trying to stop it, and 
no one could tell what it was really intended to do. James 
was chafing more than ever over the cool reception his 
marriage overtures had met with in Spain ; Winwood, 
his anti- Spanish foreign secretary, was forcing him further 
and further into the attitude of a Protestant hero ; and 
whispers were afloat that not the Indies but Genoa was 
in jeopardy from Ealegh's fleet. 

While Nassau lay in the Texel, Lionello, the Vene- 
tian Ambassador in London, noticed that Scarnafissi, his 
colleague from Savoy, was continually in mysterious 
communication with the King and Winwood. Some- 
thing of deep importance was clearly in the w^ind, and 
Lionello pressed Scarnafissi to take him into his confi- 
dence. Under the most solemn promises of secrecy, 
which Lionello promptly broke, the Savoyard revealed 
that he was proposing to the King, with Winwood's 
support, that Ealegh, instead of being sent to the Indies, 
should be reinforced wnth some of the King's ships, and 
then, in concert with some Dutch and French vessels, 
should enter the Mediterranean and surprise Genoa. 
Already Lord Rich had been permitted to fit out two 
privateers under the flag of Savoy ; at this time, moreover, 
James was taking active diplomatic action in the Duke's 
favour ; and during January 1617 he continued, so 
Scarnafissi said, to regard the scheme with favour. 
Ralegh too, the Venetian Ambassador was assured, was 
quite ready to change his voyage of discovery into a raid 
on Genoa, and he was keeping his eye on him and his 
fleet, ready to act the moment that Venice decided to 
hoist her flag in the Mediterranean. So Lionello wrote 

' See * Consulta de officio del Consejo de Estado,' Madrid, Jam.iary ] 7, 
1617. Documentos Ineditos, xlv. No. 423, 


to his Government on January 19, 1617. A week later 
he wrote again to say that Scarnafissi had seen the King 
on Sunday and had been referred to "SVinwood to discuss 
the details. Winwood had informed him that what the 
King wanted to be assured of was first the facility of the 
operation, and secondly what share of the plunder was 
to be his. Scarnafissi replied that success was assured, 
and that, as to the booty, the Duke of Savoy only wished 
to satisfy the King, and all he hud to do to enjoy the 
lion's share was to send a large enough force to secure it. 
Winw^ood then talked of mobilising sixteen sail of the 
royal navy besides Ealegh's eight, but that the envoy 
thought was too good to be true. Still he was hopeful. 
The next week, however, Lionello wrote that the scheme, 
so far at least as Kalegh was concerned, had fallen through. 
Without giving up his intention of sending naval assist- 
ance to Savoy, the King was resolved not to trust it to 
Ealegh's hands, mainly because his name would arouse 
too much opposition from Spain, but also because he 
could not be trusted with the plunder. So at least the 
ministers had told Scarnafissi. Lionello was not con- 
vinced. He believed that, once at sea, Ealegh would be 
found, after all, making for the Mediterranean.^ 

Gondomar, too, was of the same opinion, and was still 
unsatisfied. At the end of March, when Ealegh's fleet 
was practically ready for sea, he was still pressing for 
some definite assurance from the King.- To quiet him, 
James promised to procure from Ealegh an exact state- 
ment of his force and his destination, and to take security 
from him before he sailed that he would not change it. 
The King's engaging frankness as to Ealegh's objective 
could only suggest that he was intended to do something 
quite different, and the threat hung heavily over Spanish 
counsels. All December and January Count Ernest of 
Nassau's troops had been lying wind-bound in the Dutch 
ports, and the Ocean galleons had been hanging in the 
Straits looking for his sails to appear every hour. Then, 

' Lionello's despatches are printed in Edwards's Life of Raleigh, i. 579. 
2 Buckingham to Winwood, March 28, 1617. Bucckuch MSS. {Hist. 
MSS. Com.) vol. i. p. 189. 

D 2 


in consequence, it was believed, of a sudden failure of 
heart at Count Ernest's strength, they had been recalled 
to Cadiz, but only to be ordered out again on news that 
the Hollanders on February 11 had actually sailed. The 
Ocean squadron was this time reinforced from the China 
and West Indian fleets. ' So much,' wrote the British 
agent at Madrid, 'do they take to heart the going of 
those forces out of Holland into Italy.' Two days later 
it was known that the Straits had been left open precisely 
at the wrong time, and that the whole of the Dutch fleet 
had passed in one by one.^ Still the Spanish galleons 
were kept where they were in ppite of urgent calls on 
them elsewhere. No reason appears. All we know is 
that Gondomar had not yet got the details of Kalegh's 
project from the King, and that it was not till a month 
later that it was thought safe to leave the Straits 

There need scarcely have been so much anxiety. 
Ealegh had certainly abandoned the idea before he sailed. 
Perhaps he had never seriously entertained it. Lionello's 
despatches leave it uncertain whether the proposal came 
originally from Kalegh or Scarnafissi, but it is extremely 
improbable that the idea can have commended itself to 
the Elizabethan. There is no indication as yet that the 
leaders of English naval thought divined the great future 
that lay before them in the Mediterranean, and Ealegh 
himself, as we know from his own pen, did not believe 
that anything could be gained by supporting so insigni- 
ficant a prince as the Duke of Savoy. For once his 
prophetic insight was at fault. He believed Savoy could 
never be more than a vassal to either France or Spain, 
and failing to appreciate the peculiar strategic and diplo- 
matic strength of its position, he could not dream that it 
was to her that the most coveted prize of Christendom 
was to fall, and that one day a son of her house would 

' Carlcton Letters, pp. 96, 101. Cottington to Winwood, March 23, 1617, 
BucclcMch MSS. i. 187. According to De Jonghe, Nassau sailed on March 
2, 1617 (n.s.) and arrived on April 4 {Ncderland in Vciiciie, i>. 69). 

2 ' Kelacion de los navios de la Armada del Mar Oceano, &c.' in Duro's 
Armada Espafwla, iii. 365. 


sit on the throne of the Caesars, with the Pope himself 
between his knees. It is therefore unhkely he ever enter- 
tained the idea favourably, and even if he did he probably 
rejected it on strategic grounds. Since his failures as an 
admiral he had devoted much time to the study of naval 
science, and he can hardly have missed detecting the weak 
point of the design. Sir William Monson, the last of the 
true Elizabethan admirals, shortly afterwards laid it down 
that the capture of Genoa was impossible witliout the 
previous acquisition of an advanced naval base in the 
Mediterranean, and there is no reason to believe that 
Ealegh was not sagacious enough to share this view. 
Further, it is now practically certain that if Ealegh was 
really bent on striking Spain a blow, it was in the way 
that naturally commended itself to a man of the Eliza- 
bethan school. During his last months in England he 
was undoubtedly considering an attack on the Spanish 
treasure fleet in concert with French privateers, and one 
of his chief captains was the notorious Sir John Fearne, 
who only five years before had been cruising off Cape St. 
Vincent at the head of a pirate squadron and consorting 
with the most active corsairs of the time.^ 

To be sure Ralegh's admirers will still dispute his 
piratical intentions, mainly, as it seems, because such 
things are now regarded as diso'editable. But it was not 
so then. Such moves were at that time the stock-in-trade 
of foreign politics — no more to be reprehended than is a 
secret treaty now. We have seen how King James him- 
self, merely to add weight to his diplomacy, could calmly 
consider the seizure and plunder of a friendly European 
port. It is even possible he was privy to Ralegh's com- 
nmnications with France. Ralegh, even in his last solemn 
declaration at the gate of death, did not deny that some such 
communication had been made. All he said was, ' I never 
had any plot or practice with the French directly or in- 
directly, nor with any other prince or state, unknown to 
the King.' Barneveld was pressing James to do some- 
thing, as the Dutch themselves had done, to check the 
development of the great Catholic combination ; and if 

» S. P. Dam. Ixv. 16, i. Examination of John CoUever, July 5, 1611. 



the worried King gave Kalegh orders not to annoy the 
Spaniards, it was only because Gondomar's overbearing 
personality wrung them from him. If Ealegh refused to 
treat the diplomatic prohibition as Drake used to do, it 
was rather because age, sorrow, and imprisonment had 
broken his spirit and destroyed his power of command, 
than because he did not think it right. There was excuse 
enough and to spare. Spain had been persistently violat- 
ing the peace by treating every Englishman who appeared 
in American waters as an enemy. If he had made bold 
reprisal as Drake had done, no one would have blamed 
him, and least of all his own conscience. In any case it 
is certain that many of the men of most sound and sober 
judgment in England regarded it as an almost sacred 
duty to break James's faint-hearted peace and force on a 
renewal of the war before Spain had time to recover her 
strength. The old dog in the manger was showing her- 
self incorrigible, and w^e must not forget it was the 
Eeformation and the freedom of the New World that 
were at stake. 

Still opinions will continue to differ on the ethics of 
these abortive projects. Yet, whatever we may think of 
them, they were innocence itself compared with the cup 
which the Spanish governors in Italy were even then 
brewing for Venice. In her Mediterranean polic}^ Spain 
for the time seemed cowed by her inability to prevent the 
long-feared blow from the North. For all she could do 
it might be doubled and redoubled. No sooner indeed 
had Nassau's fleet sailed than the Venetian Ambassador 
at the Hague was applying to the States for another to 
transport three thousand more troops that Count Leven- 
stein had raised in Germany for the Venetian service, 
and the British Ambassador by the King's orders was 
supporting his request.^ It was clear that, with Venice 
thus free to renew her strength from the sea, Gradisca 
must fall. It was only a question of time and a long 
purse ; and there was every prospect of the loss of the 
frontier fortress being followed by an expansion of the 
maritime republic, which would not only force back the 
• Carleton Letters, pp. 96, 104, 145, 151, 162. 


Austrian Hapsburgs permanently from the Adriatic, 
but would end perhaps in the partition of the Spanish 
province of Milan between Venice and Savoy. The 
Hapsburg system would thus be sundered by an impass- 
able gulf. Before such an outlook the heart of Spain 
misgave her. Eecoiling before the rising storm upon the 
policy of her superseded Viceroy, she began to devote 
all her energies to restoring the ignominious peace which, 
before her e3^es were opened, she had been so eager to 
break. At all hazards the door must be closed against the 
unwelcome intrusion of the Northern sea powers, and the 
opportune mediation of the Pope gave her the chance of 
saving her face. The mediation was accepted. Plenipo- 
tentiaries from the four contending parties assembled at 
Madrid in the spring of 1618, and it was thus faintly that 
the new force first made itself felt in the Mediterranean. 



For Spain to cry peace was one thing. For her viceroys 
to hsten was another. Of all the mysteries of Italian 
history there is none more dramatic or more difficult 
to probe in all its dark recesses than what is known in 
Venice as the Spanish Conspiracy. Yet there is one 
broad feature in it that stands out clearly enough. 
Although it is one that in the fascination of more melo- 
dramatic details has been generally overlooked, it is 
nevertheless the only point in the strange incredible story 
which had a lasting significance. From out of the crowd 
of cloaked conspirators, the fevered riding to and fro, 
and the cries of tortured men, rises again the hand that 
beckoned England to her destinies in the Midland Sea. 
In her jeopardy Venice cried to England for her ships, 
and this time England heard. 

The famous conspiracy is now recognised to have had 
two main aspects — the one, within Venice itself, akin 
to our own Gunpowder Plot, with mysterious strangers 
crowding the low taverns, whispers of secret stores of 
explosives, and sudden, silent executions — the other out 
in the Adriatic, where Osuna's new fleet was boldly 
challenging the ancient claims of the island city, preying 
on her commerce, and attacking her fleets. It was 
Osuna who lived in Venetian story as the ringleader of 
the whole plot, and his piratical familiar, Jacques Pierre, 
who was believed to have been its instigator. It was 
natural enough. For it was in Osuna's declared policy 
of winning the sea, and in the fleet which, with the 
Norman corsair's help, he had at length created that the 
real danger lay, and not in the brainless bravos w^ho, as 


they found to their cost, were but children in the hands 
of the Venetian pohce. 

Early in the year 1617, when Ealegh's destination 
was still uncertain and Osuna had heard of Nassau's 
Dutch squadron that w^as on the point of sailing, no one 
knew whither, he had written to the King at Madrid 
saying that he would send the few ships he could get 
ready into the Adriatic to be on the look out ; but, so as 
not to compromise the home Government, they should sail 
under his own private flag on pretence of cruising for pirates. 
On the same pretext he said he was seeking permission to 
buy some ships in France. At the same time he pointed 
out the importance of the rule of concentration, which 
Drake had forced on the English Government in 1588, and 
begged that Santa-Cruz's squadron, w^hich was then lying 
at Gibraltar, might be ordered to join Kibera at Brindisi. 
It is possible that it was at this time that his ambitious 
mind conceived the idea of making his master supreme in 
the Western Mediterranean by the seizure of Venice. At 
all events it is certain that on April 1 some such scheme 
was occupying his mind. He had heard the Venetians 
had sent out a squadron to meet their Dutch auxih .ries, 
of whom as yet he had no certain news, and he was 
writing to the King to explain how he was ' ^ncentrating 
all the galleys and ships he could lay hands on to prevent 
the junction. He did not doubt the Gibraltar galleons 
would follow the Dutch if they passed, so as to join hands 
with his own admiral Eibera, and then all would be well. 
If the King would only place the matter in his hands 
with supreme command, he would undertake, he said, to 
make him master of the state and seas of Venice. All 
he asked was ten of the seventeen galleons which Santa- 
Cruz had at Gibraltar, if no more could be spared, and 
a free hand, and then with the Italian galleys and his 
own galleons he w^ould undertake that Venice should 
trouble Spain no more. 

Meanwhile he ordered Kibera to Brindisi with eleven 
galleons, and directed the galleys to join him there. But 
long before they were ready the Venetian Gulf squadron 
appeared off the port and blockaded Kibera while the 


Dutch transports and their attendant warships passed in. 
Nothing daunted, however, Osuna pursued his purpose. 
Eibera was ordered back to Messina to effect a concentra- 
tion with the Itahan galleys and the Spanish galleons he 
expected from Gibraltar. But instead of the galleons 
came a despatch from the King in disapproval of his 
proposals. The design on Venice, he was assured, was 
an excellent idea, but unfortunately the Ocean galleons 
could not be spared. The Spanish seas were so thick 
with pirates of all nations that every available ship was 
needed to protect the coasts and the ocean trade. No 
other answer was possible. For, to add to all the other 
anxieties, it w^as just when Kalegh w^as on the point of 
leaving England, and every Spaniard believed he was 
going to turn pirate too. But this was not the worst that 
Osuna had to bear. He had also to learn that, in the face 
of her helplessness to resist the new naval pressure, 
Spain could no longer support the wars of her viceroys 
and had accepted the Pope's mediation. Peace negotia- 
tions, as we have seen, were about to open at Madrid, and, 
for fear of impeding thein, there came an order to Osuna 
that he w^as not on any account to allow his fleet to enter 
the Adriatic. Here was a heavy check to all his dreams. 
His ships and galleys were at last ready to sail, the troops 
were on board, and there was the King's order undoing all 
he had done. But Osuna was not yet beaten. He had 
not been humbled as yet, like Ealegh, with years of sorrow 
and imprisonment. Success and popularity had fixed his 
confidence. He knew what the naval situation demanded, 
and his masterful nature was not so easily thwarted by 
the wretched crew of politicians who surrounded his 
almost imbecile sovereign. He vowed, so the Venetian 
agent reported, that he would send his fleet into the Gulf 
in despite of the world, in despite of the King, and in 
despite of God. In such a temper an excuse for dis- 
obedience is seldom far to seek. It happened that the 
objectionable order w^as not in cypher as usual, and there 
he saw his way. So he calmly sat down and wrote to 
his master to inform him of the prohibition he had re- 
ceived, saying that as it was not in cypher he had no 


doubt it was a forgery, and therefore he ^Yas sending his 
whole force into the Gulf of Venice as originally ordered. 
Meanwhile Nassau's troops had landed in Venice, and 
the combined Venetian and Dutch fleet had returned and 
struck an offensive blow before Osuna could move. The 
only weak point in the Venetian command of the Adriatic 
was at this time the sea power of the ancient city of 
Eagusa and the other Dalmatian ports, where the old 
nobility of Albania and the neighbouring countries, flying 
before the Turkish conquests, had established themselves 
in a kind of piratical independence and were known as 
the Uscocchi. It was in these men and in the Kepublic 
of Eagusa that the house of Austria sought an instru- 
ment to sap the Venetian dominion on the sea. Indeed 
it was to the Archduke Ferdinand's encouragement of the 
Uscocchi that the existing war was mainly due, and in 
concert with Osuna he was credited with an intention of 
bringing them into line for the threatened blow at Venice. 
As an answer to the move the Venetian admiral, Veniero, 
had seized a small port close to Eagusa, and there the 
Gulf squadron had taken up its station as though w^ith 
the intention of establishing a base from which the 
obnoxious neutral port could be seized, or at least 
rendered impotent. Thither, therefore, Osuna ordered 
his fleet so soon as the bulk of it was ready. The move- 
ment resulted in a mere reconnaissance. The Gulf 
squadron being inferior refused an action, and Osuna's 
admirals, flndmg it was expecting reinforcements, fell 
back to Brindisi to pick up the remainder of their force. 
In July they returned, but again the Venetians refused 
an action in the open and retired to Lessina. Here an 
engagement took place. It was quite indecisive, an 
artillery duel at long range ; but, while Eibera blockaded 
the Venetians with his galleons, his galleys were able to 
intercept two of the famous galeazze dl mercantia with 
their priceless cargoes. Though Eibera could not retain 
his station and was compelled to return to Brindisi, the 
affair was heralded as a victory, and Osuna claimed to 
have a set-off against Veniero's blockade of his own fleet 
at Brindisi, and to have successfully challenged the 


Venetian claim to the mare clausum. As a matter of 
fact the campaign had been a strategical success for the 
Venetians. They had covered the siege of Gradisca, re- 
tained their position against Ragusa, and were still in 
practical command of the Gulf, in so far as it was closed 
as a channel for reinforcements for the Archduke, and 
open for the support of their own operations in Carniola. 

Still Osuna could be well content. Even the Spanish 
Court were coming round to his views. In answer to the 
objectionable order, he had presented them with an 
accomplished fact, and instead of a reprimand he had 
received directions, quite in the elastic modern style, to 
protect Spanish interests in the xA.driatic. It was an 
authority wide enough to excuse any violent measures 
that might prove successful, and he prepared for a new 
effort. The darkest part of the work was already well in 
hand. After mysterious overtures to the Venetian Ambas- 
sador at Naples, Jacques Pierre with a few kindred spirits 
had pretended to desert Osuna's service and had escaped 
to Venice. The Frenchman's unnatural eagerness to 
transfer his talents to the flag of St. Mark aroused some 
suspicion. He was not at once employed, but by pretend- 
ing to betray Osuna's designs he retained his liberty, 
and was able to tamper with the adventurous rascality 
that was found in abundance among the Venetian hired 
troops and seamen. His idea appears to have been to 
raise at the favourable moment a military and perhaps 
a naval revolt ; and so, as soon as the Neapolitan fleet 
was signalled, to turn against the Venetians the foreign 
mercenaries on whom they were relying. Though silently 
watched, he was meeting with no small success, and all 
was going well when Osuna was staggered by a peremp- 
tory order from Madrid to remove the whole of his ships 
instantly from the Adriatic. Instead of attacking Venice 
he was to pick up the stores and provisions he had gathered 
at Messina for the grand design, and to send them on to 
the Marquis of Santa-Cruz at Genoa. To add to his 
disgust he found at the same moment that his galley 
admiral had left Eibera in the lurch and brought all his 
vessels round to Messina without orders, unless they 


were some he had received direct from the Court. Osuna 
was fm'ious. He wrote in hot protest to the King, not 
sparing to demonstrate the madness of the move to 
Genoa, which would leave the Venetians free to use their 
fleet against the Archduke and the Uscocchi, and expose 
the whole of the Neapohtan and SiciHan waters to the 
mercy of the Turks and corsairs. Still he would obey if 
he could, but he feared it was quite possible that, as 
Ribera had now no galleys to tow his ships, the weather 
might prevent them getting out of the Adriatic in time 
to be of use. But his protests and his cunning were 
alike useless. Spain had no choice. The horizon beyond 
the Pyrenees had grown so threatening that at any 
moment it seemed that the whole weight of France 
might be thrown into the scale of Savoy ; and to Genoa, 
threatened as she already was from the North Sea, must 
go all the strength Philip could scrape together. It was 
a situation which Spain had never had to face before. 
She was wholly unprepared to meet the double danger. 
There was but one way of escape. The Plenipotentiaries 
at Madrid hastily completed their w^ork, and in September 
peace was signed between Spain, the Empire, Venice, and 

It was a peace no one believed in ; Europe was too 
obviously on the eve of a universal conflagration. Fer- 
dinand, whose savage persecution of his subjects had 
more than justified his education as the nurtured cham- 
pion of the Jesuits, had been elected King of Protestant 
Bohemia. It was the throne to which the Elector 
Palatine, the most fiery representative of the Eeformation 
militant, had always aspired with James's support to lift 
his English bride, and Ferdinand, as heir to all the 
Austrian dominions and practically Emperor elect, was 
as much by his position as his fanatic character the real 
head of the Catholic combination. So the glove was 
already thrown down. Every one was arming and every 
one scheming to secure a better position before the 
trumpets sounded. 

To Spain the peace brought no reHef from the special 
anxiety that was breathing upon her out of the Nortliern 


seas. Indeed it was taking a new form that the peace 
was likely to aggravate rather than assuage. She had 
shown herself w^holly unable to poHce effectively the 
great commercial routes that lay within her particular 
sphere of action, and both England and Holland, into 
whose hands w^as falhng a continually increasing share of 
both the Levant and the Indian trade, were evincing an 
ominous disposition to do the work themselves. A Dutch 
squadron under Evertsen, w^e have seen, had already been 
causing anxiety as to its intentions on the Atlantic coast 
of Morocco, and more drastic and extensive measures v/ere 
on foot in Holland. In England the King, under pressure 
from the Levant and East Indian merchants, had ap- 
pointed a royal Commission to inquire into the best 
method of breaking the powder of the Barbary corsairs, 
and out of it came the first faint germ of the British 
Mediterranean Squadron. At the end of April 1617, 
when the Spanish Cour.cil was first considering Osuna's 
startling proposal, the Commission, after taking the 
evidence of the most experienced merchants and sea- 
captains available, had made its report. The main ques- 
tions were whether or not the work should be under- 
taken in concert with Spain, and whether it were better 
to attempt the seizure of Algiers by a coup de main or to 
maintain a permanent squadron in the Mediterranean 
until the corsairs were hounded from the sea. The 
captains w^ere unanimous in declaring Algiers impregnable 
to surprise, and in recommending a permanent squadron. 
They were equally unanimous in decHning to act with 
Spaniards, or indeed with any nation except the Dutch, 
and they strongly advised that the assistance of the King 
of Spain should be confined to a contribution of money 
and the use of his ports, which they declared essential to 
the scheme as advanced bases. The Commission endorsed 
their ideas, and when a month later Sir John Digby went 
as special ambassador to Spain with the marriage treaty 
in one hand, this was the peppery dish he carried in the 

Nothing could well have been more repellent to the 
Spanish palate. An expedition against the Barbary 


corsairs had become the stock diplomatic formula for 
covering some ulterior and sinister design. Osuna had 
been and was still using it without so much as a smile, 
and to the Court of Spain Digby's proposals can have 
been read as nothing less than the threat of a naval 
demonstration to quicken its interest in James's marriage 
proposals. But in fact they had the appearance of some- 
thing worse. The man who was at the back of the 
merchants in their pressure upon the English Government 
was Essex's old companion in arms, the Earl of South- 
ampton. For us he lives as Shakespeare's far-sighted 
patron ; but then he stood for that irresponsible and 
romantic policy of hot aggression against Spain w^iich 
Essex had personified, and which we should now perhaps 
call 'jingoism.' To Gondomar there was no doubt of 
what such a leader meant. He wrote to his Government 
that the adventurous noble was bent, by means of war 
with Spain, on dethroning the Earl of Nottingham 
from where he sat as King Log of the navy, in order 
that he might reign in his stead, and that under the 
cloak of Algiers he was bent on a now attempt upon 

For Spain there was nothing to do but make the best 
of the situation, and, with as good a face as she could 
assume, she entered into negotiations for an international 
effort against the corsairs. But it is not surprising to 
find that, so soon as the negotiations were on foot, the 
Spanish Government, which, as we know, had been hanging 
back from Osuna's adventure, was once more encouraging 
its intractable viceroy. Disgusted with the peace which 
frustrated his half-finished designs against Venice, and 
distracted with contradictory orders, Osuna had begged 
for leave of absence for himself, and for definite instruc- 
tions for his fleet. ^ His ships were again in the Adriatic ; 
for, on report that Levenstein and his three thousand 
Germans were on the point of sailing, he had promptly 
ordered it back to Brindisi. Meanwhile the Government 
at Madrid had received definite information that, in spite 
of the peace, Levenstein had sailed with eleven powerful 

' October 13, 1617, Doc Inhh xlvi. 130. 


ships, under the command of the Datch admiral, Hilde- 
brant Quast. As a matter of fact, an effort had been 
made by the Venetian agent at the Hague to stop him as he 
passed down Channel, but the order came just two days 
too late.^ Of this the Spaniards were probably ignorant, 
and it was resolved that Osuna should be told to maintain 
the attitude he had taken up. He was, however, to use 
the greatest discretion, so as not to endanger the peace ; 
while as for leave of absence the King himself wrote in 
flattering terms approving his zeal and saying that he 
could not be spared from his post.^ A fortnight later he 
was definitely informed that he might prevent the 
Venetians permanently estabhshing themselves in their 
new station near Kagusa, but it must be done under his 
own flag and not the King's. 

Before this despatch was received Eibera had been 
in coUision with the Venetians. By Osuna's orders he 
had already taken his fifteen galleons up to Eagusa to 
watch their fleet. Whereupon, according to Bibera, the 
Venetian admiral had put to sea with eighteen galleons, 
tw^enty-eight galleys, and six galleasses, and attacked him 
without any provocation. The weather was fine enough, 
says Bibera, for both tiers of guns to be used, and a sharp 
action ensued. He was to leeward, and awaited the 
Venetian attack, which was made in their old crescent 
formation. Of his own tactics he says nothing except 
that he soon forced the oared ships to back hurriedly out 
of action, and that, on his concentrating his fire upon the 
enemy's flag galleon, the whole Venetian force retired. 
The Venetians denied that the provocation came from 
them, nor did they admit the victory which Bibera reported. 
He again claimed to have established command of the 
Gulf, but the admitted fact is that a storm prevented the 
renewal of the action and that Bibera was forced to run 
for shelter back to Brindisi, w-here before long he found 
himself once more blockaded by w^hat he described as a 
mixed fleet of Venetian, Dutch, and English vessels 
under the flag of St. Mark. It is quite possible, as we 

» Carliton Letters, pp. 163, 195. 

' November 29, 1617. Duro, Osuna e. su marina : Appe7idix, 


shall see, that some English Levant merchantmen did 
actually form part of the Venetian admiral's force, and 
these vessels, owing to the dangerous condition of the 
seas through which they had to pass, were armed and 
equipped in all respects like men-of-war. Indeed, by 
both Spaniards and Italians, they were usually spoken of 
as galleons. 

From this ignominious position it w^as necessary for 
Osuna to extricate his admiral with all speed. Definite 
though exaggerated news had just reached him that 
Levenstein with fifteen galleons had left Holland for 
Venice at the end of October, besides four transports that 
were to follow, and there was every prospect of his being 
as powerless to prevent their entering the Adriatic as he 
had been before. For this time the enemy was armed to 
the teeth, and, instead of stealing by as Nassau's ships 
had done, Levenstein was ready to fight his way through 
in a compact fleet.^ Again, therefore, Osuna cried to the 
King for help — for the return of the four galleons he had 
been compelled to detach as transports to fetch his troops 
back from Lombardy — for seven or eight of the galleons 
of the Ocean Guard — for the squadron of the galleys of 
Spain. With these he was certain he could deal a blow 
to Venice and its fleet which would give his master rest 
for many a day to come. But instead of help came fresh 
causes of anxiety. His plot against Venice was fast 
ripening. Jacques Pierre was making good progress. In 
August he had obtained an engagement to serve the 
Venetian State. Though he received no definite com- 
mission it was a great step forward, and Osuna was 
growing desperate. He wanted to have everything ready 
by April 1618, yet he could not get so much as a 
definite order from Spain, and his colleague in Sicily 
refused to co-operate with either ships or galleys. Appeal 
after appeal went off to Madrid as his difficulties increased, 
till, in the closing days of the year 1617, the last blow 
came and he heard that the Venetians had not only ap- 
plied for leave to charter a squadron of twelve warships 
in Holland, but had sent a similar application to England. 

• Carleton Letters, p. 1G3. 
I. F 


So long as he had only the Dutch to deal with he might 
hope to be strong enough still to carry out his project ; 
but with both the new sea powers combining to save the 
old one, his grand scheme began to look almost hopeless. 
Weary of warning his Government, he lost all patience 
and took the bit between his teeth. Without so much as 
seeking the consent of the ministers he so deeply despised 
he took his own line, and began to act with all the airs of 
an independent prince. To the Archduke and to Spinola 
in Flanders he WTote off to urge them to charter for him 
in Holland a squadron of twelve of the largest and most 
heavily armed ships they could get ; to Gondomar in 
London, to charter him eight of the renowned English 
merchantmen ; and finally to King James himself, begging 
him not to refuse to the King of Spain what he had 
granted to the Venetians.^ 

There was need enough for haste. The Venetians 
were indeed at work in England, and with so much 
vigour that by January 20, 1618, they had received the 
necessary permission. In Holland they had had equal 
success. They had hoped, it is true, to get eight of the 
Dutch navy ships, but this the Government had refused 
on the ground that they were themselves fitting out a 
fleet of twenty sail against the pirates ; but they allowed 
them to hire tw^elve merchant ships fitted for war, wdth 
the option of purchase.^ By February people were ready 
to name the man who was to command the British 
contingent. Ostensibly an Italian was to be at its head, 
but this was only to save appearances. The real com- 
mander w^as to be an Englishman ; some said Sir Henry 
Peyton, a favrnrite officer of Sir Horace Vere,^ and some 
Captain Henry Mainwaring, a famous gentleman pirate, 
who had recently come in on a promise of pardon from 
the King. 

He was a man entirely representative of his class — the 
well-born adventurers whose restless spirits or broken 

* An Italian version of this letter is among Lord Calthorpe's MSS. 
{Hist. MSS. Com. ii. 4oG) voL cxlvi. f. 312 ; a Spanish version in 
Docuimntos InMitos, xlvi. 271, dated Naples, Jan. 1, 1G18. 

» Carlcton Letters, pp. 232, 235, 245. 

■ Danestic Calendar, 1G13, p. 212. 


fortunes had driven them, npon the cessation of the war 
with Spain, to find employment upon the high seas or in 
the service of the Barbary states. A member of one of 
the oldest families in England — the Mainwarings of 
Peover, in Cheshire — he had taken to piracy — so he 
assured the King — more by accident than design. 
Details of his piratical career are wanting, but it was cer- 
tainly during the period when the English pirate leaders, 
under treaty with the Sultan of Morocco, had established 
a kind of base at Mamora or Mehdia, at the mouth of the 
Sebu river, just north of Salee. Ever since Fajardo's 
successful attack on the Goleta at Tunis, it had become 
their principal haunt. ^ In less than two years, according 
to a report made in 1611 by Sir Ferdinand Gorges, 
Governor of Plymouth, there were some forty sail of 
English pirates, with two thousand men, using the port 
and cruising in two main squadrons, under Sir John 
Fearne and a Captain Peter Croston or Kaston.^ Main- 
waring's name does not appear among the captains. 
Indeed, he had probably not yet taken to the trade ; for, 
from a farewell ode written in his honour, it would appear 
that he did not sail from England till January 1613, when 
he set out with the intention of accompanying Sir Eobert 
Shirley on his last embassy to Persia.^ What the acci- 
dent was that made him change diplomacy for piracy we 
do not know ; but if w^e may believe his own report, he 
took so kindly to the new profession that he must soon 
have risen to a position which made him supreme at 
Mehdia. While he was there, he said, there were thirty 
sail of corsairs frequenting the place, and he would not 
allow one of them to go either in or out without their 
giving an engagement not to touch English vessels. 
Furthermore, he made a treaty with the Salee Moriscos, 
by which all their Christian prisoners were released, and 
he made it his business to rescue all English vessels he 
found in * Turkish ' hands and protect them from moles- 

' See Osuna's report, June 2, 1G18, Doc. In^d. xlvi. 411. 

2 S. P. Domestic, Ixv. 16, July 4, IGU. 

^ Seethe Muses' SrtcriAcc, by John Davies of Hereford, 1612. It would 
appear that, in 1614, Mainwaring's name was famous as a pirate as far as 
Caithness. See Sir W. Monson's Voyage in that year ; Churchill, iii. 240. 


tation. Several * Turkish ' corsairs he actually captured, 
he says, one of which had been as high up the Thames as 
the Lea. He also claims to have made an arrangement 
with Tunis, by which British ships were to be exempt from 
its depredations, and he says the Bey had eaten bread 
and salt with him, and offered him half shares of all prizes 
and the freedom of his religion if he would enter his ser- 
vice. So great was his reputation that he claimed to 
have received similar invitations from the Dukes of Savoy 
and Guise and from the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Spain, 
too, he tells us, finding herself unable to deal otherwise 
with the situation, approached him through the Duke of 
Medina- Sidonia with the offer of a pardon and a high 
command if he would betray Mehdia into Spanish hands. 
One midsummer day in the last year of his service, he 
tells us that with only two ships he fought five Spaniards 
all day and then beat them off, and thereupon received 
from Spain an offer of twenty thousand ducats a year to 
take command of the Andalusian squadron. But he was 
not to be tempted, and his depredations continued ; nor 
was it till the Spaniards began to suspect that the Dutch 
had designs on Mehdia that they found energy to destroy 
his nest. Then, as we have seen, Fajardo with an over- 
powering force captured the place and made it a Spanish 
port. Whether Mainwaring was present at the time is 
not known, but as the place made practically no resistance 
it is probable that most of the leading corsairs were away 
cruising. It is even possible that, after all, Mainwaring 
arranged with Fajardo that they should be. At all 
events it was the end of his career as a Barbary corsair. 
Tho following year he was hovering in the Korth Sea 
while his friends negotiated his pardon, and early in 
161G they had succeeded in so far assuring it that he 
was back in England settling claims with men he had 

' Domestic Calendar, 1(311-18, pp. 298, 342, 353, 359. See also his 
Discourse on Pirates (signed 'Henry Maynnaringe '), Brit. Mus. Reg. 17, A. 
xlvii. Another copy is among the MSS. of Sir P. T. Mainwaring at 
Peover, Hist. MSS. Con. x. iv. 202. The copy in the Royal MSS. is 
probably that presented to the King. It is a very beautiful piece of cali- 
graphy, elaborately illuminated, and it is interesting to note that it may 


If half he tells of himself is true, the reappearance of 
such amanin theMe:literranean with the othcial sanction 
of the British Government could only be viewed with the 
liveliest apprehension in Spain. It is no wonder then 
that the news of what was ^oing on in En^g^land caused a 
profound sensation at Madrid. The Council of State was 
at its wit's end. It took them a week of anxious delibera- 
tion and prolonged debates before they could make up 
their minds what to reply to Osuna. Their last order to 
him had been to maintain his position ; but in the face of 
the new difficulty their hearts once more began to fail 
them, and though at first some members were inclined to 
support his action they eventually changed their minds. 
The resolution they finally came to was that Osuna must 
be told it was useless to pursue his project against Venice. 
It was certain that in case of need the princes of 
Germany, the King of England, and the Dutch would 
come to her assistance ; and as for disputing her claim to 
the Adriatic, Spain was not in a position to make war for 
such an object. True, Osuna had said he could maintain 
such a war for six months from his own resources ; but it 
was now clear that, long before six months expired, the 
Venetians would have obtained assistance which would 
enable them to prolong hostilities for years. He must 
therefore give up all idea of coercing the Eepublic and 
remove his ships from Brindisi. They assured him that 
the object for which he had sent them there was no 
longer possible, for they had certain news that Levenstein 
had already passed in. To keep his ships where they 
were could do nothing but excite suspicion and foster that 
interference of the Northern powers which Spain wished 
particularly to avoid. To add to his vexation these orders 
were followed by a reprimand for his having presumed 
to correspond directly with a foreign prince, and by a 
pious rebuke for seeking help of heretics. Such paltriness 
brought the King the rough answer it deserved. ' They 
are not going to preach but to fight for you,' he said, and 
hotly justified all he had done. His anger availed him 

be the work of the converted pirate's own hand, since John Davies, who 
addressed him as his favourite pupil, was a writing-master. 


nothing. He was bluntly told to refit ten of his ships 
and send them to Gibraltar as a gaard for the Straits.^ 

It was not likely that the Viceroy's ambition would 
allow him tamely to submit to such orders which at a 
blow would wreck all his schemes. They were fast 
coming to a head. Those mysterious strangers were 
already swarming in the Venetian taverns ; Jacques 
Pierre was darkly at work among Levenstein's troops ; 
and the hour of the Eepublic was at hand. In des- 
peration Osuna pointed out to the King the madness of 
abandoning the Adriatic to his arch-enemy at such a 
moment, when so much had been done. He was sure the 
King could not have heard the news from England and 
Holland when his last orders were penned, and he had 
therefore taken on himself to delay their execution till be 
heard again. The orders were repeated, and so was his 
protest. So sure was he that they must be mistaken in 
Madrid about the fleets that were coming from the North 
that he had ventured still to delay the recall of his fleet 
from Brindisi, and even to reinforce it with four more 
ships he had been hastily equipping at Naples. This was 
on May 8. In three weeks' time would be the great gala 
day at Venice, when her dominion over the Adriatic was 
celebrated by the annual ceremony in which the Doge 
went out in the great * Bucentoro ' to wed the Sea. 
Strangers from all lands were flockmg then as now to see 
the pageant. The installation of a new and wealthy 
Doge happened to coincide with the wcrld-f-amed festival. 
Venice had never been gayer and more crowded, and yet 
in the throngs of toarists and revellers there was a sinis- 
ter element so numerous that it could not be entirely 
concealed. It was no wonder that Osuna was anxious 
and excited as tbe long prepared moment approached, and 
that he tore more fiercely than ever at the reins that were 
checking his restiveness from Madrid. 

There they knew wellenoigh all that Osuna knew, 
but for them it was a reason for drawing back and not for 
pressing on. As long before as March 21, Gondomar had 

^ Documcntos Iniditos, Feb. 10, 14, 1618, vol. xlvi. 277 et seq. Duro, 
Osuna e su Marina: Appendix, Feb. 17, April 11. 


sent them full particulars of the danger that was threaten- 
ing. In Holland twelve ships of war under Admiral 
Melchior van den Kerkhoven with two thousand men 
were almost ready for sea, and in a month seven of the 
finest English merchantmen would sail to join them at 
Plymouth.^ Besides these there were at least two other 
English ships which the Venetian Ambassador had 
chartered, and which were already in the Mediterranean. 
Gondomar was using his utmost efforts to thwart the 
Venetian action, but he knew he would not be able to 
stop the squadron sailing any more than he had been able 
to stop Ealegh. The Venetian Ambassador had been 
ordered to get the vessels off with the greatest possible 
speed, regardless of cost, and he had nearly half a million 
ducats at his disposal. Every English ship would carry 
besides its seamen seventy soldiers, and it was said the 
Low Country officer, Sir Henry Peyton, w^ould command 
them. Gondomar could not get at the King. Bucking- 
ham, who was then all-powerful and violently anti- 
Spanish, would not let him. So there was no hope and 
they must prepare for the worst. ^ 

That King James, for all his nervous caution, could 
permit such an expedition to be organised in his territory 
was scarcely less significant than if he had fitted out a 
squadron from the royal navy. It w^as impossible to read 
it otherwise than as a demonstration of where he meant 
to draw the line between peace and war. The Spanish 

' De Jonghe, Nederland in Venetie, p. 86. They sailed from the Texel 
May 18, 1618. 

'^ The schedule of ships which Gondomar sent included details of their 
crews, tonnage, armament, and rate of hiring. They were as follows : — 

In England : Tons. Guns. 

' The Centurion' 250 26 

'The Dragon' 270 26 

•The Abigail' 2.50 26 

•The Devil of Dunkirk' .... 250 26 

• The Hercules ' 300 28 

• The Mathew ' 330 28 

• The Eoyal Exchange ' .... 400 32 
At Leghorn : 

' The Southampton ' 230 80 

The Merchant Eoyal ' .... 450 32 

Documentos Liiditos, xlvi. 374. 


Government were face to face at last with the prospect of 
an English fleet in the Mediterranean, acting in concert 
with the Dutch, the Venetians, and probably, as they 
thought, the Barbary corsairs ; and whatever may have 
been their complicity in Osuna's schemes they knew it was 
time to drop them. It was this that had brought to the 
chafing Viceroy order after order to quit the Adriatic, and 
to remove his fleet from his own port at Brindisi, and it 
was this that had earned him the reprimand for writing 
directly to the English Court. Nothing could have been 
more ill-timed than his apphcation to James for permission 
to hire ships. It had served no purpose but to give the 
shifty King a complete answer to Gondomar's protests. 
In reply to his importunity the baffled Ambassador could 
get nothing better than an assurance that he too might hire 
ships if his master wanted them. To this the Spaniards 
had no retort, and the only hope of stopping the unwelcome 
intrusion was to persuade the Venetians, by a complete 
evacuation of the Adriatic, that it was unnecessary for 
them to seek English assistance. 

But, severely as his Government was pressing him, 
Osuna could not bring himself to abandon the fruit of so 
much labour, as it hung almost within his reach. His 
reinforced fleet was at Brindisi ready to sail, the taverns 
of Venice w^ere swollen with his agents. Apparently un- 
suspicious of her impending doom, her revels grew higher 
and h'gher, and every day Osuna expected from Madrid 
the word that would free his hand. Nearly a month 
before, Jacques Pierre had warned him that his pro- 
crastination w^as ruining their chances, and two days later 
the Frenchman's activity was stopped by his being ordered 
aboard the fleet Vvith his most dangerous confederate. 
Still no word came from Madrid. On May 18 Osuna 
wrote again more urgently than ever. He had heard 
directly from Gondomar, and from the Governor of the 
Spanish'-Netherlands, that the English and Dutch ships 
were on the point of sailing, and waited in confidence 
for the answer. 

But already it was too late. The very day he penned 
the letter, as Venice awoke for another day's festivity, there 


was a sight in the Piazzetta that sent a shiver through every 
heart. On the gibbet between the famous columns were 
two corpses, and each hung by the leg in token that their 
crime was treason. While the horror was still fresh 
another body was added, this time awTy with the marks 
of torture. No one could tell what it meant. They only 
knew that suddenly all those sinister strangers had dis- 
appeared as mysteriously as they had assembled, and no 
one knew how. There were whispers of boats full of 
bodies, and dull splashes in the canals in the dead of 
night, and in the fleet Jacques Pierre and his confederate 
were swiftly put to death. The day for the fantastic 
marriage came, and the people assembled to celebrate it, 
but gloomily with anxious murmurs of some horrible 
danger narrowly escaped. Yet it had been escaped, and 
the wedding took place in all its splendour. The Doge 
was still lord of his bride, Osuna's fleet remained motion- 
less at Brindisi, and a week later he was writing to say 
he had ordered Eibera to withdraw.^ 

To this hour the ' Spanish Conspiracy ' remains a 
mystery. Its ramifications have baffled the historians of 
all countries. The parts of France, of Spain, of Osuna, 
and of Don Pedro de Toledo at Milan, are all uncertain. 
Yet all seemed to have a part. We know the ringleaders 
of the bravos in Venice were French, that some of them 
had been in Osuna's service, and their chief his most 
familiar instrument ; we know that they were in com- 
munication wdth him and the Spanish Ambassador at 
Venice, that they expected an attack from Osuna's fleet, 
and that Osuna intended to make one at the moment they 
were prepared to act. But what the connection was no 
man can say. Probability would seem to suggest that the 
plot in Venice itself w^as some wild scheme concocted 
by mere desperadoes with a vague idea of mending their 
fortunes ; that Osuna knew of it and fostered it through 
Don Pedro and Jacques Pierre so far as he saw in it an 
opportunity of coming in like a deus ex machina with his 
fleet, and making himself master of the situation ; and that 

' Duro, Osuna e su Marina : Appendix, May 30. For the best English 
account of the ' Spanish Conspiracy,' see Horatio Brown, Veiietian Studies. 


the Spanish Government were prepared to shut their eyes 
to what he was doing so long as it did not involve them in 
too great a danger. And herein lies the abiding interest 
of the melodramatic story. Until the Venetian Ambas- 
sador with King James's assent began hiring ships on 
the London Exchange, the Spanish Government had let 
Osuna go on. Then it became clear, not only that the 
English King would not permit the old strategic centre 
to pass under Spanish control, but that he knew he had 
the means to protect it in a w^ay there was no resenting. 
Then it was that Spain drew back and was able to hold 
her turbulent officer long enough for Venice not only to 
crush treachery in her bosom but to provide herself with 
a force upon the sea against which Osuna was powerless. 
So to all the strange aspects of that famous plot we must 
add one more, and see in it the first occasion on which 
England by her new sea power laid a mastering hand 
upon the old centres of dominion and had dimly revealed 
to her her most potent line of political action. 



At first sight it may appear that too much importance 
has been attached to the apparently insignificant aid 
which James permitted the Venetians to obtain from his 
marine. To modern eyes the Httle squadron of merchant 
vessels, which came at the call of Venice in her hour of 
trial, must appear scarcely worth lifting from the oblivion 
into which it has fallen. Yet a clear apprehension of the 
idea of naval power which then prevailed will show that 
to the men of that time the sailing of those forgotten 
ships must have had a very deep significance. To begin 
with, it must be borne in mind that first-class merchant- 
men still formed an integral and recognised part of the 
national navy. Sailing war-fleets in all countries were 
usually more than half made up of armed merchant ships. 
It had even been the policy of the British Government, as 
well as of others, to foster the production of such vessels 
as composed the little squadron by a tonnage bounty, 
with the express intention that they should constitute an 
auxiliary fleet. For centuries such vessels had occupied 
in the scheme of national defence a similar place to that 
which was held by county militia ashore. As yet the 
system had shown no signs of falling into disfavour, but 
rather the reverse. In the last year of Elizabeth a scheme 
had been worked out under w'hich the defence of the 
home w^aters was to be left almost entirely to squadrons 
of private men-of-war, in order that the whole royal 
navy might be set free for an untrammelled and far- 
reaching offensive, and, as the young Osuna had seen, the 
war would have gained a new and irresistible impetus 
had not James brought it to so abrupt and premature a 


conclusion. It v^as therefore no mere filibustering ex- 
pedition that had been on foot. In sanctioning the 
employment of first-class merchantmen by the Venetian 
Government, the King was deliberately parting with a 
section of his maritime force in order to protect an ally, 
and thereby preserve the balance of power in the 

Nor was this all. It might be said that, so far as the 
check to Spain was due to naval pressure, it w^as due to 
the action of the Dutch rather than to that of England. 
Indeed, they were rapidly outstripping their mistress in 
the naval art, and it is possible that at that moment their 
naval power w^as as great as hers. Ever since the last 
years of Elizabeth the royal navy had been declining in 
strength and temper ; but it is by no means clear that this 
w^as generally known. England's prestige, as far as we 
can judge, stood as high as ever, and upon this she had 
been living. The fleet w^as one of the great sights of the 
country. Every foreign tourist of distinction went down 
to Kochester to see the royal ships, and wrote home 
glowing accounts of their numbers, strength, and splen- 
dour. The King held naval reviews in the sight of 
shouting thousands, and none but the keenest eye could 
tell that all was not as well as ever. But even if the real 
state of things was not fully known abroad, it mattered 
little, for by this time it was fully known at home, and 
the most threatening aspect of the little squadron that 
James had sanctioned was that its organisation coincided 
with a serious revival in England. It is therefore pro- 
bable that the moral effect of the English demonstration 
had at least as much weight w^ith the Mediterranean 
powers as the actual force exhibited by the Dutch. 

If we were to seek for the point at which the navy 
began definitely to decline, we should probably find it about 
the time when death withdrew from it the influence of 
Hawkins and the old seamen admirals. It was then that, 
under men like Essex and Southampton, the navy bscame 
the fashion and fell into the hands of * Society.' With 
a mere fine gentleman like Fulke Greville succeeding 
Hawkins, it was not likely that, however good and up- 


right the new Treasurer's intentions might be, the seeds of 
corruption, which the old Plymouth captain had fought 
so long and astutely, should not begin to sprout anew\ 
Nor from the Earl of Nottingham, the old Lord Admiral, 
was any assistance to be expected. With advancing 
years lethargy had crept fast upon him. When the peace 
was signed he was nearly seventy — a ripe old age as men 
went then — and his portrait shows senility stamped on 
every feature. In his best days as Lord Howard of 
Effingham his lofty personality and unblemished devotion 
had given the country the power of welding into an 
irresistible weapon all the fierce and unruly elements of 
her sea power. As the nominal head of her sea-bred 
captains his services were priceless. But neither as a 
seaman nor as an administrator was there anything very 
definite to his record. In the Great Armada year, on 
which his reputation mainly rests, his plan of campaign 
had been superseded by that of Drake, and he had been 
practically ordered to place his main fleet at his Vice- 
Admiral's disposal. In the actual fighting he had been 
chiefly distinguished by blundering unsupported into the 
middle of the Spanish fleet, and by his inexcusable 
turning aside from the crucial attack at Gravelines. 
During the greater part of his administration, moreover, 
the navy had been practically managed by Lord Burghley 
and Hawkins, and so soon as their hands were removed 
it began to go down hill. As early as 1596 the expedition 
to Cadiz had demonstrated that the decay of his mental 
and physical qualities rendered Nottingham unfit for 
active command, and the condition of the fleet in the fol- 
lowing year said as little for his powers of administration. 
A man always susceptible of being dominated by any 
strong personality with which became in contact, he soon 
became but a child in the hands of the worthless men 
who succeeded in winning his confidence. The result was 
a rapid deterioration of the navy in every aspect, and all 
attempts to check it he querulously opposed. Convinced 
of the purity and loftiness of his own conduct, he would 
not believe that any man whose fortunes he had pushed 
could be less devoted than himself. To make matters 


more difficult, the worst offenders were connections of 
his own, and his belief in his order and in his family, 
in which the command of the navy had become almost 
hereditary, was sacred and inflexible. The result was an 
inevitable nepotism, but a nepotism so honest that he 
took any reflection on the general administration of the 
service as a personal attack. To remove him was the 
only hope for reform, and his position was practically 
unassailable. A great nobleman of lofty descent and 
venerable figure, he stood like a personification of Eliza- 
bethan glory, a last and cherished link with the heroic 
age ; and it was not till Buckingham rose to his almost 
unprecedented position as a favourite that a force was 
found strong enough to drag the old Lord Admiral from 
his seat. For fifteen years after Elizabeth's death he 
remained an unwitting cloak to every disease that can 
infect a navy. 

His evil genius and the main cause of all the trouble 
was Sir Eobert Mansell, who stands without a rival in 
our naval history for malversation in his office. An officer 
of the new school, he was a gentleman of good family who 
had chosen the navy as a career from his youth, and the 
record of his service afloat was at least respectable. 
Though distantly connected with the Lord Admiral, he 
was one of Essex's men and had been knighted at Cadiz 
in 1596, though in what capacity he served is unknown. 
The following year he was captain of Essex's flag-ship 
during the Azores expedition, and afterwards was serving 
as his admiral on the Irish station. An accomplished 
courtier, he managed to survive the fall of his patron, and 
Nottingham's influence and devotion to the interests of 
his kinsmen was enough to keep him employed. When 
Nottingham's son-in-law, Leveson, was serving as Admiral 
of the Narrow Seas, Mansell was appointed his vice- 
admiral, and when Leveson in 1602 was given the com- 
mand of the main fleet, INIansell succeeded him in the 
Channel. While he was so serving it had fallen to his 
lot to concert with the Dutch admiral a combined 
attempt to prevent Erederigo Spinola's second attempt 
to pass the Straits of Dover with a galley squadron, 


and the success of the operation had brought him some 
distinction. It was at all events enough for the Lord 
Admiral's influence and his own good looks to secure him 
the treasurership of the navy when Sir Fulke Greville 
retired in the first year of the new King's reign. The 
energy and power with which John Hawkins had filled 
the office, no less than the easy-going temper of the old 
Lord Admiral, had combined to make the Treasurer the 
practical head of the navy, and Mansell found himself 
free to play havoc with the service. The disease, which 
had been poisoning the whole system since Hawkins's 
incorruptible and able hand had been withdrawn by 
death, soon began to appear like health beside the lament- 
able prostration into which Mansell rapidly reduced it. 
Money was squandered right and left while the efficiency 
of the fleet was as recklessly diminished. Promotion by 
purchase was established almost without disguise, and 
highly-paid officers multiplied beyond anything that had 
been known in the hottest days of the war. In one year, 
when only seven ships were in commission, there was a 
roster of three admirals and four vice-admirals, ' so that 
the navy was like an army of generals and colonels.' ' 
From the top of the tree to the bottom peculation and 
embezzlement ran riot, and the swindling in the store- 
houses and dockyards was only equalled by the shameless 
claims which were made and allowed by the higher 
officers. No check was attempted, the Admiralty officers 
ceased to meet, Nottmgham kept his eyes resolutely 
shut, and in four years Mansell had succeeded in WTeck- 
ing the navy to such an extent that serious alarm was 

The first efl'ort to check his career was in 1608. It 
was in this year, it will be remembered, that the Spanish 
navy was being reorganised in order to set free the 
galleons of the Ocean Guard for operations in the Medi- 
terranean against the growing power of Ward and 
Danzer— operations which were intended to clear the 
ground for the vast naval mobilisation for the expulsion 
of the Moriscos. No one, however, at that time could 

' Oppenheim, Administration of the Royal Navy, p. 190. 


guess the real object of the activity in the Spanish ports, 
and relations between the Courts of London and Madrid 
were so severely strained that the worst w^as feared. 
Under the pressure of the new alarm, which induced 
James to sign an offensive and defensive alliance with 
the Dutch, he was also brought to grant a commission 
to inquire into the state of the navy, in spite of the 
powerful influence of the Howards. 

The prime mover in the affair appears to have been 
Sir Robert Cotton, the famous antiquary and founder of 
the Cottonian Library. He was regarded as the most 
learned historical scholar of his time, but what his special 
interest in the navy was is not clear. It is interesting, 
however, to note that it may have ,heen to some extent 
hereditary. The first Navy Commission of which we 
have any record owed its existence in a great measure 
to the fearless and incessant criticism of the administra- 
tion made by a certain Sir Thomas Cotton, who served 
as Wafter of the Wool Fleet under Henry VHI., and 
as a flag officer in succeeding reigns. When in the 
year 1583, on the eve of war with Spain, his prolonged 
agitation bore fruit in the great Commission which the 
Queen ordered to inquire into the state of the navy, it 
was he who with Sir Francis Drake and three others were 
appointed sub-commissioners to do all the work. Whether 
or not this Sir Thomas was related to Sir Eobert, it was 
by him again the bulk of the work was done, for it fell 
to his part to draw up the report. The duty was dis- 
charged with his customary thoroughness, and the picture 
of corruption and incapacity it presented is amazing. 
Still more astonishing is the evidence on which it was 
based, and which still exists among Cotton's manu- 
scripts in the British Museum. Yet less than nothing 
came of it. The Lord Admiral, who was nominally at 
the head of the Commission, had testified the importance 
he attached to it by never attending the sittings. Secure 
in the power of his family and the growing dulness of 
his conscience, he treated the whole proceeding with con- 
tempt, as he well knew he could. The damning report 
was duly presented to the King, but the culprits suffered 


nothing worse than an oration from the royal hps. They 
were left free to continue on their evil path, and things 
went rapidly from bad to worse. 

Four years later, when Spain and the Empire had 
definitely joined hands and the Protestant powers were 
drawing together in a still closer union, the indefatigable 
Cotton tried once more. The prospect of a great European 
war was again at its blackest. So strained indeed were 
the relations of James with Spain, that Digby, the British 
Ambassador at Madrid, had to report that the Council 
was actually debating a sudden attack upon the new 
Dutch colony in Virginia. Moreover, as politics then 
stood at the English Court, Cotton was able to secure the 
support of both Northampton and Rochester, the most 
powerful of the King's sycophants and the most deter- 
mined opponents of the Howards. The result was that 
a new Commission was issued. This time the offenders 
took a still bolder line. The Commission contained a 
clause authorising the Commissioners 'to give orders for 
the due punishment of the offenders,' and they determined 
to dispute the King's authority to issue such a charge. 
To this end Mansell procured from Whitelocke, the latest 
authority on the prerogative, an opinion that the ob- 
jectionable clause was ultra vires. By chance it reached 
the King's hands. His tenderness on such high matters 
was acute, and it stung him more sharply than the active 
decay of his navy. Both Mansell and Whitelocke were 
arrested and brought before the Council, and only escaped 
the Tower by a humble submission and apology. There 
unfortunately the matter ended. As far as is known the 
Commission never reported, and the Lord Admiral and 
his Treasurer continued their disastrous career unchecked. 
Nor was it till the action of the Duke of Osuna against 
Venice and the utter collapse of the royal finances gave 
James a thorough fright that he was brought to his 

It was no sailor or politician who finally brought about 
the regeneration of the navy, but one of those plain men 
of business for whom England is always wont to cry out 
in her need. For some years past a new class of officials 

I. F 


had been gathering round the King, taken no longer from 
the ranks of the nobiHty and gentry, but from the middle 
class that was daily growing in wealth and importance. 
Foremost among them was Sir Lionel Cranfield. He had 
begun life like a story-book, as the clever and diligent 
apprentice whose handsome face won him the hand of 
his master's daughter. With this early start he rapidly 
became a marked man in the City, and after distinguish- 
ing himself several times in the conduct of semi-ofhcial 
business with the Government he was introduced to the 
King by Northampton as a promising man of affairs. 
The promise was abundantly fulfilled. In 1615 he w^as 
knighted and made Master of the Eequests. Now that 
Bobert Cecil was dead he w^as without a rival as a finan- 
cier. So honest and capable were his methods that he 
rapidly obtained a position that was unassailable, and 
shone like an angel sent from Heaven to drag both King 
and courtiers from the financial slough into which they 
had brought themselves. One after another he took the 
state departments in hand, searched them to the bottom, 
swept them clean, reorganised them on the soundest busi- 
ness principles, and started them afresh on healthy lines 
to which no one dared to take exception. Perhaps his 
most remarkable gift, seeing that he made no pretension 
to be a politician, was his power of getting rid of the men 
who had caused the mischief. It was a gift that was 
likely to be tried to its utmost w^hen it came to the 
Admiralty's turn to feel his hand. 

The mere fact that a Commission had been issued was 
of course a severe blow to Howard's position. On the 
other hand it w^as likely to arouse the same determined 
opposition from his party which had already defeated two 
similar attempts. It was clear nothing would come of 
Cranfield's efforts unless the most powerful Court influ- 
ence could be brought to back them. To this end 
Buckingham was approached. He had already reached 
a position in the Knig's favour which no intrigue could 
shake; he had just been created a marquis; nothing stood 
between him and complete domination but the serried 
ranks of the Howards, and on them he had declared open 


war. The suggestion that he was the proper person to 
take the Lord Admiral's place can hardly have been un- 
welcome, but he modestly declined it on the ground of 
his youth and inexperience. But the seed was sown and 
for the present that was enough. Cranfield had in his 
mind not merely reform, but such a revolution as would 
render the navy practically independent of the Lord 
Admiral's incapacity, and the Commission got to work 
with a light heart. Cranfield was of course a member, 
but he was far too deeply occupied with other depart- 
ments to take an active part in its proceedings. The bulk 
of the work fell on John Coke, who had been Deputy- 
Treasurer and Paymaster of the Navy in Sir Fulke 
Greville's time, and had been his right hand in trying to 
curb the abuses which had crept into the service in 
Elizabeth's last days. Even then a navy captain could 
write to him, * To say truth, the whole body is so cor- 
rupted as there is no sound part almost from the head to 
the foot ; the great ones feed on the less, and enforce 
them to steal both for themselves and their commanders.' 
Coke appears to have lost his post when by the Howard 
influence Greville was induced to resign in favour of Sir 
Kobert Mansell, and he was no doubt ripe for an attack 
on the faction that had displaced him. He was supported 
by a most powerful Commission, composed of leading City 
merchants and shipowners, like Sir Thomas Smythe, 
Governor of the East India and Virginia companies, 
financiers like Sir John Wolstenholme, a farmer of the 
Customs, with a seasoning of experts from the Exchequer 
and practical shipbuilders. From a Commission so con- 
structed there was no hope of escape. Mansell beat a 
hasty retreat. Before it could meet he obtained a promise 
of the Vice-Admiralship of England in place of Sir 
Eichard Leveson, who had recently died, and sold the 
treasurership to a man after Cranfield's own heart, Sir 
Wilham Eussell, a leading Muscovy merchant. 

By September the Commission had completed its 
report. It was of a most businesslike character, dis- 
playing nc tendency to dwell upon the iniquities of the 
past, or to bring home to the old offenders what they so 

V 2 


richly deserved. It was to the future it looked, and it ex- 
posed the lamentable condition into which the old system 
had fallen merely to emphasise the need of reform. In 
an interun report Coke had been able to show that of the 
forty-three vessels borne on the Navy List, fourteen, or 
one third, w^ere unserviceable ; three apparently did not 
even exist, though their upkeep was regularly paid for ; 
while three others were useless till repaired. The navy 
was in fact weaker by six good ships than in the last year 
of Elizabeth. Yet the ordinary charge had risen to over 
50,000^. a year, or more than it had been in some of the 
last years of the war. During this time nineteen new 
vessels had been ostensibly added to the navy, but of 
these two had been begun under Fulke Greville, two had 
been bought, two were pinnaces, and most of the rest 
were reconstructions carried out in the most wasteful and 
inefficient manner. The only substantial addition had 
been the famous * Prince Eoyal,' the largest ship ever de- 
signed for the navy. In their final report the Commis- 
sioners dealt with thirty-five vessels only. Of these, four 
were the useless galleys which had been built during 
Spinola's scare ; nine, including four large galleons, were 
decayed beyond repair, leaving fifteen great ships and 
eleven smaller vessels which they considered might be 
made serviceable. It was an overwhelming exposure, but 
no worse than every one must have expected. 

Of far greater interest were the proposals for the 
future. They were of the most drastic kind. First was 
laid down a minimum establishment of which the navy 
should consist. Thirty efficient vessels, the Commissioners 
considered, was all that could be hoped for at present, 
owing mainly to the heavy calls upon material and seamen 
by the increasing number of powerful merchantmen which 
were being built, and the ever widening area of British 
commerce. The thirty vessels they proposed to class as 
follows : Four ' ships royal ' of over 800 tons, all of which 
already existed ; fourteen ' great ships ' between 600 and 
800 tons, of which eight already existed, and six must be 
built to replace five decayed vessels and the four galleys ; 
six ' middling ships ' of 450 tons, of w^hich three must be 


built to replace five decayed smaller ones ; two *' small 
ships ' of 350 tons, of which one must be built; and four 
pinnaces under 300 tons. This establishment, they pointed 
out, though numerically smaller than that of Elizabeth, 
yet exceeded it in total burden by over 3,000 tons. True, 
it left ten ships to be provided ; but by building two a 
year they considered the standard might be reached in 
five years, at a total cost of 30,000/. a year. In other 
words, they reported that the effective strength of the 
navy might be nearly doubled for little more than half 
what it had been costing. 

The policy on which this programme was based was 
perfectly clear and w^ell reasoned. It was no new thing ; 
it merely carried to its logical conclusion the immemorial 
tradition which regarded the merchant marine as an 
integral part of the naval force of the kingdom. In those 
days sea-borne commerce was not regarded as a source of 
weakness, but of strength. The idea of commerce pro- 
tection, as we understand it, was unborn. Beyond the 
hmits of the Four Seas it was not held to be the province 
of the royal navy. Ocean-going merchantmen expected 
to protect themselves. Not only did they make no demand 
upon the royal ships, but, as a matter of course, accepted 
the position of an auxiliary navy. All therefore that was 
new in the Commissioners' project was the breadth of 
vision with which they conceived the whole as one great 
national force, and assigned to each branch of it its 
special functions. Small ships in the royal navy, they 
declared — beyond three or four for special service — were 
a mere waste, since whenever they were wanted they could 
be had from the merchants in any number. It was 
clearly their idea that the true function of the royal 
navy was to provide a squadron of powerful ships to form 
the backbone of the fighting fleet, and that the merchant 
marine should be looked to for the rest. Or, as we should 
put it now, the royal navy ought to be confined, or 
nearly so, to battleships, and the merchant marine should 
be relied on for cruisers and minor types when occasion 
arose for a larger number than were sufficient for the 
ordinary service of the Narrow Seas. There is in this 


policy a comprehensive grasp of the whole problem of 
naval defence, such as had never yet been so clearly 
enunciated, or perhaps even so clearly conceived by any 
professional seaman. We see stamped upon the whole 
document the influence of men educated to statesmanship 
in the management of the great trading companies, of 
men accustomed to look their resources fairly in the face, 
to measure them without self-deception, and to husband 
and distribute them with a single eye to achieving the 
utmost return for the capital and energy invested. Small 
as w^as the force they proposed, judged by modern 
standards, they knew it was all the existing resources of 
the country could keep in a state of high efficiency, such 
as they were accustomed to in their own business, and 
they knew that if it w^as so kept it was enough ; ' enough,' 
as they said, ' with private ships without foreign aid to 
encounter any Prince's sea forces.' 

But they did not stop here. Merely to point out 
what should be done they knew was useless. To leave 
the old system intact w^as only to have their report 
shelved, and no sooner was it presented and well received 
than they prepared their final blow. The first sign of 
what was coming was a whisper that Buckingham had 
abandoned his modest attitude and w^as prepared to accept 
the office of Lord High Admiral jointly wdth the old Earl 
of Nottingham, and that the Prince of Wales had sur- 
rendered in Buckingham's favour the reversion of the 
office which had been granted him as Duke of York 
before his elder brother's death. Every one seemed to 
regard this as a preliminary to the graceful supersession 
of the unhappy old Admiral. But there was more behind. 
The news was followed immediately by an announcement 
that the Commissioners had offered the King to undertake 
the whole management of the Admiralty for 30,000Z. a 
year, and to carry out the programme they had laid dow^n, 
if he would appoint them as a permanent Board. So 
revolutionary a proposal, which would reduce the Lord 
Admiral to the position of chairman of a board of directors, 
was more than Nottingham with his old-world aristocratic 
ideas could tolerate. He opposed it with his whole weight, 


and as it meant a clean sweep of all the old officers they 
too supported him fiercely. All was of no avail, for 
Buckingham was on the side of the reform. Coke had 
written him an ingenious letter explaining on behalf of 
the Commissioners that their proposals, so far from 
decreasing his power and dignity, would really enhance it, 
since under the new system the heads of departments, 
instead of being officially appointed by the King and for 
life, would now be but members of the Commission holding 
their appointments directly from the Lord Admiral and 
during his pleasure. Even the Commission itself depended 
for its existence solely on his protection and influence. 
' Be pleased, my good Lord,' he urged, ' to consider that 
the Lord Admiral's greatness is not to have a market 
under him of base and unworthy people that betray the 
King's honour and his by the sale of places, havoc of 
provisions and ruins of ships, but his true and real 
greatness is the power and greatness of the King, the 
confidence of his favour, the trust of his service, and the 
reputation and flourishing state of the navy.' With 
these considerations Buckingham, whose zeal for a 
powerful navy was thoroughly genuine, was satisfied, and 
perhaps even relieved ; and with his support it was an 
understood thing that the Commissioners' proposal would 
be accepted. It was the last blow to the old Lord 
Admiral. To be openly recognised as the mere figure- 
head that he had been for a quarter of a century was more 
than he could bear, and he readily availed himself of 
Buckingham's offer to buy him out. 

So amidst the downfall of the Howard family fell the 
impressive figure which for years had been honoured as 
the personification of the naval glories of EHzabeth. 
When we remember what the Howard position had been, 
it is no less than astonishing to see how it crumbled at 
the touch of the modern commercial spirit. With a 
cynical directness Cranfield had gone on the principle 
that it is cheaper to buy out obstruction than to w^aste 
time and energy in getting it removed by force, and his 
policy proved a complete success. For so businesslike 
an attack the men of the Court w^ere wholly unprepared, 


and the whole system went down before it smoothly like 
a pack of cards. 

Nor was this the only sign of the times. As Eliza- 
beth's old Lord Admiral was thus deferentially handed 
from his seat, there was played out the tragedy of the last 
of the Elizabethans. The Commissioners had hardly got 
to work when Sir Walter Ealegh returned from his 
melancholy failure in Guiana, and while Cranfield and his 
men laboured to disentangle the web of corruption, 
Gondomar was pressing for Ealegh's blood, as years 
before Mendoza had growled for Drake's. Every one 
knows how differently the two demands were met. 
Though Spain, through her viceroy at Naples, had been 
playing a game beside which Ealegh's was almost inno- 
cence, James had neither the art nor the courage to 
resist. Within a week of Nottingham's fall the successor 
of Elizabeth drank the last dregs of his long truckling to 
Spain, and Ealeo^h's body was lying headless on Tower 

So the old era came to a close. Ealegh had rejected 
the principle of action in the Mediterranean in favour of 
a revival of the old ideas under which he had lived. He 
could not see that they were out of date, and martyrdom 
with a kind of strange canonisation was his reward. At the 
same moment the new men were raising the navy from 
its ashes ready for the new career that was rapidly open- 
ing before it, and dimly grasping at the main line of its 
future energy. With Ealegh's death the oceanic era of 
Elizabeth passed away, and in its place the era of the 
Mediterranean was dawning. 



With Gondomar's tragic success Spanish diplomacy 
appeared triumphant. It seemed for the moment as 
though British pohcy was to be brought into complete 
subserviency to that of Spain. But, in truth, it was the 
turning of the leaf. Events were rapidly shaping them- 
selves for the teaching of the new page, and public 
opinion, no less than statesmen's judgment, was ripening 
to give it hfe. The sacrifice of the last of the Eliza- 
bethans was more than Englishmen could endure. Un- 
popular as Kalegh had been all his life, in his dignified 
martyrdom he became the patron saint of the British 
creed — of the faith which combined in one dogma the 
spirit of the Keformation and the spirit of imperial 
expansion. The ring of the axe that had laid the old 
adventurer low re-awakened the old aggressive passion. 
The smouldering hatred of Spain blazed out again; the 
London mob vented its fury by an attack on the Spanish 
Embassy ; and when Gondomar left the country — 
though he had ridden to the coast in a kind of triumph 
like a conqueror — it was to advise his master that on 
no account must he break with England. 

It was wise counsel. The Bohemian revolution had 
alr3ady lit the spark of the Thirty Years' War. It was 
to James's son-in-law% the Prince Palatine, that the 
Bohemians were looking for support against the House of 
Austria, and in view of the new alliance between Philip 
and the Emperor, and the suspicious naval activity in the 
Spanish ports, even James could not sit quiet. Mindful 
of Osuna's recent attempt, which might well be renewed, 
he had sent to inquire what were the intentions of Spain 


in regard to his son-in-law's dominions. The great fear of 
the Court of Madrid was that in the coming contest James 
would be pushed into the arms of the war party and 
finally declare himself the head of the Protestant Church 
mihtant. As things stood the dual aUiance had little to 
fear, but with the English fleet thrown into the scale 
there was small doubt which way it would turn. As 
Gondomar pointed out, re-echoing Osuna's incessant cry, 
whoever was master at sea would soon be master ashore. 
The halting mobiHsation which was then in progress had 
revealed that the Spanish navy, as he said, had never 
been so unready for war, while in a few weeks England 
could mobilise a powerful fleet, besides the swarm of 
privateers that would immediately cover the sea. The 
only policy for Spain was to keep James in a good humour, 
and to this end they should revive the negotiations for the 
marriage between the Prince of Wales and the Infanta. 
Nor was there any time to lose. Eival proposals were 
being made to James from Germany, Savoy, and Erance ; 
and Dutch envoys were actually in London settling the 
strained relations which had arisen between the two 
comitries in the East Indies, and urging the King to 
declare war on Spain. 

Gondomar, in his eagerness to secure the neutrality of 
England, probably exaggerated the readiness of the royal 
navy. Still, he was not far wrong. In the six months 
that had elapsed since he left London, things had changed 
greatly for the better. Though Buckingham and the 
Commission were not officially appointed till February 
1619, they had been diHgently at work. The worst of the 
abuses had been already cleaned up. Two nev/ ships had 
been laid down in accordance with their programme, and 
they were making rapid progress. The King was giving his 
new servants a loyal, even enthusiastic support. When 
the new ships were complete, he went down to Deptford 
in state to see them launched. He performed the chris- 
tening ceremony in person. Draining a bumper to the 
new Commissioners' health, he congratulated Bucking- 
ham on his choice of officers, and the officers on the 
beauty of the new vessels, on the rapidity of their build- 

1618 THE NEW SHIPS 75 

ing, and no less on the economical accounts they had 
offered for his inspection.' In his high satisfaction he 
broke quite away from the traditional nomenclature of 
the royal navy. The larger of the two vessels, ' a great 
ship ' of the second rank, he named, in honour of the 
reforming Commissioners, ' The Reformation,' a name 
which was changed, perhaps in view of its doubtful 
meaning, to ' Constant Reformation.' The other, a ship 
of the third rank, he called in honour of the new Lord 
Admiral's debut, ' Buckingham's Entrance,' a name which 
was afterwards changed, possibly as being too great a 
departure from custom, to ' Happy Entrance.' Two more 
ships of the same ratings were immediately laid down in 
their places, and everything promised that Buckingham's 
entrance was really happy, and the reformation likely to 
be constant.^ 

But this was not all to which Gondomar could point 
in support of his view that at all costs England and her 
sea forces must be kept neutral. During the time the 
naval reorganisation had been going on much had occurred 
to give his opinion emphasis. Even before he left the 
kingdom in the summer of 1618, he had received an 
object lesson of how men of the new Commissioner's 
stamp could prepare a fleet. It must be remembered 
that this was the time when Osuna's contemplated design 
on Venice was ripening, and the encouragement which 
the Spanish Government had been secretly giving was 
suddenly changed to opposition by the news of what the 
Republic was doing in Holland and England. It was 
about the middle of January 1618 that the Venetian 
Ambassador in London got leave to charter eight men- 
of-war. On April 8, within three months, he went down 
to Deptford to see them off. He was received with a 

' Salvetti, Nov. 22, 1619. Chamberlain to Carleton, Nov. 13, S.P. 

* In view of the difficult question of comparing English and foreign ship 
measurements, it is interesting to note that Salvetti says the two vessels 
were of 800 and 500 tons respectively, and ' we,' he adds, ' calculate the ton 
at 5 sahne each.' The English official measurement was : ' Constant Re- 
formation,' burden 564, ton or tonnage 752 ; ' Happy Entrance,' 437 and 582. 
They were usually rated at 750 and 580. 


rousing salute and a grand luncheon, as the importance 
of the occasion demanded, and his smart Httle fleet 
dropped down the river to be ready for the first fair wind. 
On the 23rd they w^ere well away and were expected to 
reach Gibraltar by May 1. It was under Sir John 
Peyton that they eventually sailed. Who the seaman 
commander was is not known, but it was not Main- 
wearing. At the last moment the Government felt that 
the reformed pirate, for all his repentance, was not to be 
trusted on the high seas, and he had to go to Venice 
overland. On the same day that the ships left Deptford 
the contingent of twelve sail, which the Venetian Am- 
bassador had equipped in Holland, put to sea, and with it 
sailed a regular Dutch squadron of fourteen sail. It was 
intended, as was announced, to police the Straits against 
the Barbary corsairs, but there was small doubt its objec- 
tive would be changed if occasion arose, and for Spain 
it was no less a cause for anxiety than the two hired 
squadrons which were sailing openly under the flag of 
St. Mark.^ 

It was no wonder, then, that the Spanish Government 
was at its wit's end. During the whole time that the 
English squadron had been preparing, they had been 
bombarding Osuna with orders to quit the Adriatic, and 
as yet had received from him nothing but excuses for 
disobedience. Don Miguel de Vidazabal, one of the 
finest seamen in their service, who had recently been 
made vice-admiral of the Cantabrian Squadron, was 
watching the Straits with seven ships and two caravels. 
Whether to reinforce him or not wath such vessels as 
the groaning mobilisation would allow became a subject 
of anxious debate in the Council. Three new galleons 
were sent him ; but on June 18, before they had made up 
their minds to do more, the two Dutch squadrons were 
sighted from the top of the Kock. What had become of 
the English squadron, or why the Dutch had been so 
long on the way, is difficult to ascertain. The two con- 
tingents had certainly not joined hands, and Vidazabal 

» Salvetti's Neivs Letters, April 18 to May 31, 1618, Add. MSS. 27962, 
vol. i. Salvetti was the London agent of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. 


felt justified in attacking, since the States admiral drew 
off and left the Venetian squadron to take its own course. 
The action lasted four hours, and when darkness sepa- 
rated the fleets Vidazabal had to report forty killed and 
thirty wounded, with the usual rider that the Dutch were 
believed to have sutfered much more heavily. During 
the night he prepared to renew the action, but to his 
chagrin received an order from Santa-Cruz to the effect 
that his Majesty had resolved not to oppose the passage 
of the Venetian squadron. A week before, peremptory 
orders to the same -effect had been sent to Osuna, and at 
last he had obeyed.^ 

So far, then, the naval intervention of England and 
her ally in the Mediterranean had been a complete success. 
Venice was safe, and Spain's hand was forced. The exten- 
sive naval mobilisation for what was officially styled *the 
Secret Expedition ' had now to take definite shape. 
Whether or not it had been intended to back up Osuna's 
blow, if it had succeeded, is unknown. At any rate, it was 
no longer possible to cover such a design under the cloak of 
operations against the pirates. It was a game two could 
play, and the Northern powers had won the first point. 
There was every prospect of their continuing the match 
with ever increasing boldness and all the leading cards in 
their hand. In fact, the pirates whom Spain had nm'sed 
so long could no more serve as a mask for her ambition. 
They had become, by her own supineness, a handle for 
her enemies — a handle by which at any moment they 
could open wide the gate of the Mediterranean. It was 
clear that if Spain hoped to preserve the domination of 
her sphere, she must set herself with a single eye to 
removing the cause of offence. Within a week of Vida- 

• Duro, Armada Esjmfiola, iii. 357, 498. It is probable that the EngHsh 
squadron had ah-eady passed the Straits, perhaps about June 10, as Salvetti 
expected ; for on the 13th an urgent order was sent to Osuna to withdraw 
his fleet from Brindisi and send it to reinforce the fleet that was being 
mobilised against Algiers. This was the order he Anally obeyed. On the 
other hand, there is a despatch of Osuna's dated July 2'4, saying that the 
English and Dutch have begun to enter the Adriatic {Doc. Indd.). Possibly, 
therefore, both the fleets had been detained by a long spell of foul weather 
and passed the Straits about the same time. 


zabal's action an Algerian fleet was reported returning 
from a raid at Lanzerote in the Canaries. Vidazabal at 
once agreed with the admiral of the States squadron that 
was still lying in the Straits to join hands. Together they 
fell upon the corsairs, and in a few hours completely 
destroyed them. About the same time Osuna, who, since 
his designs on Venice were defeated, was throwing himself 
heart and soul into the destruction of the Mussulman 
sea power, sent his admiral, Don Otavio de Aragon, 
into Turkish waters, where he entered and played havoc 
in the Dardanelles. Another squadron made a successful 
raid on Bizerta, while similar activity was displayed by 
the King's galleys on the coast of Valencia. At length 
Spain seemed in earnest, and it was knowTi she was mus- 
tering a great galley fleet from all parts of her dominions 
for the spring of 1619. 

Still, in view of the war clouds that overhung Europe, 
no one could believe she had not some ulterior design, 
and least of all England. Under Gondomar's advice a 
special envoy had been sent to James to revive the mar- 
riage negotiations, and to get him to ofi'er his mediation 
between Bohemia and the Empire. His vanity, which 
was always picturing him as the peacemaker of Europe, 
quickly swallowed the bait, and Spain thought herself 
safe. Philip immediately announced to the Archduke 
Albert, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, that he had 
decided to give active support to his Austrian ally, and 
informed the Emperor himself, that he was ready to give 
him a large sum of money, and, if that did not suffice, 
troops should follow. This was at the opening of the 
year 1 619. The news of the activity in the Spanish ports 
was becoming daily more ominous, and by the end of 
January every one had taken the alarm. Sir Dudley 
Carleton, the British Minister in Holland, sent over word 
that the rendezvous for the galley fleet had been dis- 
covered to be Messina. This place, from its remarkable 
strategical position, was the traditional point of concen- 
tration for the combined Christian fleets which had so 
often assembled to crush the Moslem sea power. Still 
suspicion was in no way disarmed. Indeed, so central and 


well placed is the port for operations in any part of the 
Mediterranean, that nobody could be at ease. The Dutch 
were certain it portended what every one feared. ' It makes 
them judge,' wrote Carleton, ' that the storm will first fall 
on the Venetians by forcing a passage through the Gulf 
to Trieste in Istria, and after upon the Bohemians.' ^ 

The real intention of the Spanish Council cannot be 
determined, even if they had definitely decided on any 
particular line of action. Ever since the death of the 
inflexible Philip II. they had pursued a policy of drift and 
vacillation, and were probably doing the same thing now. 
For James, in any case, it was unnecessary to come to a 
conclusion. He still had ready to his hand the weapon 
which would cut either way. It will be remembered that 
when Digby, in May 1617, had returned to Madrid to press 
the King's marriage proposals more firmly on Philip III., 
the goad he carried was a proposal for joint action by the 
leading sea powers — all of them hostile to Spain — against 
the Barbary pirates. His suggestion w^as that each of 
them should provide a squadron of twenty sail to act 
together for three years from April 1619. Little is known 
of the course of the negotiation.^ France apparently was 
favourable, but the Dutch were not so sure. They had 
recently established diplomatic relations with the corsairs, 
and their consul at Algiers had succeeded in negotiating 
a treaty whereby their ships were to be free from moles- 
tation, and they were able to do a remunerative trade at 
the pirate ports in munitions of war. However, the 
treaty had not been actually ratified, and they expressed 
in general terms a desire to further James's scheme.^ The 
King of Spain was naturally suspicious, but the negotia- 
tions continued fitfully and with some ill humour. James 
at any rate Lad his heart in the project. If he had no 
higher motive he was certainly anxious to enjoy posing 
as the leader of Christendom, and in any case the 

' S.P. Holland, Jan. 25, 1619. 

^ Dr. Gardiner found that the bundle of papers relating to this affair is 
missing from the Simancas archives. I take the terms from Duro, op. cit. 
iii. 360. 

» Carleton Letters, 136, 143, June 4; 324, July 7, 1617, and of. ib. 
p. 491. 


weapon was too nicely adjusted to meet the equivocal 
attitude of Spain to be abandoned. 

Thus the first duty that fell upon Buckingham and 
the new Commissioners on formally taking up their duties 
was to mobilise six vessels of the royal navy, to which were 
to be added five from the Cinque Ports and fourteen from 
the merchants, making in all a fleet of twenty-five sail. 
At the fame time the Dutch were definitely invited to 
co-operate with a similar force, with the idea that the two 
squadrons should enter the Mediterranean together, and 
o&er their assistance to the Spanish admiral in his opera- 
tion against Algiers — a course which put them in a position 
to see that his Armada was not used against Venice or for 
any other undesirable object.^ The Grand Duke of Tus- 
cany, who was to provide a contingent for the Spanish 
fleet, was immediately informed by Salvetti, his agent in 
London, of what was going on in the Englibh dockyards. 
The King, he wrote, had ordered a fleet to be equipped 
as soon as possible, so as to sail at any moment. It was 
to join with twenty-four Dutchmen and enter the Mediter- 
ranean on pretence of operating against the pirates, but 
really to keep an eye on Spain. Everything indeed assures 
us that this was the main object of the armament. In a 
minute which Coke wrote at this time, recommending 
greater secrecy in Admiralty business, the trend of official 
opinion is quite clear. ' In this preparation against 
pirates,' he says, ' it may be conceived the State hath some 
further design, and if it be governed by general warrants 
it will go slowly on. The gazetteers of Venice will take 
notice of it, as they have done of our former propositions. 
But if it be thought fit to carry it by the trust of a few 
and by degrees,, by this unexpected preparation his 
Majesty's sea forces shall be redeemed from contempt ; 
his present treaties with our neighbours shall have more 
reputation ; foreign princes will with more respect proceed 
in their attempts ; and if they find any interruptions in 
their principal designs they shall not have the advantage 
of our security and nakedness to redeem their honours by 
falling on us.' 

» Gardiner, iii. 289. 


As we have seen, the preparation was already not an 
entire secret, and unfortunately it was no more sudden 
than secret. Cranfield's reform had not had time to show 
effect, and mainly for want of money the mobilisation 
proceeded very heaYil3^ Contributions had been demanded 
from the seaports, but they came in slowly. The fact 
was, the English merchants, like the Dutch, had come to 
some kind of arrangement with the pirates, and so deep 
was their mistrust of the navy that they feared an attack 
on Algiers would only end in failure and exasperate 
the pirates without reducing their power. Moreover, the 
general opinion was that the Spanish armament was really 
intended to take advantage of the condition to which our 
national defences had been reduced by the shortcomings 
of the late administration, and from all the ports local 
governors were crying for means to prepare the coast 
defences against an invasion, while all over the country 
the county forces were being specially mustered to prepare 
them for mobiHsation. 

So great mdeed was the financial difficulty that it pro- 
duced a most remarkable proposition to the Lord Admiral. 
It came from Sir Henry Mainwaring, who had recently 
returned from Venice, disgusted probably, like most other 
people, with land service under the KepubHc, and sighing 
for the excitement of his old life at sea. The Venetian 
Ambassador, it appears, had been instructed by his Govern- 
ment, who must have either mistrusted or been unaware 
of James's secret intention, to apply to him for the loan 
of some of the royal ships, and the Ambassador had asked 
Mainwaring to feel the ground for him. Upon this he 
applied to Buckingham. * The Venetians' request to his 
Majesty,' he wrote, ' is only for the loan of some of his 
Majesty's ships, and they to bear the charge of waging 
and victualling the men, giving security to restore and 
repair them.' The Venetians had taken the most serious 
alarm at the fleet that was gathering in the Spanish ports ; 
and Mainwaring, whom the Venetians wished to com- 
mand the proposed contingent, saw his way to turning 
it to advantage. ' His Majesty,' he continued, ' may pre- 
tend to lay down any suspicion of this [that is, the 

I. G 


Spanish] fleet in regard to himself, and therefore that he 
will desist from fitting his own ships. But if the Vene- 
tians will be at the charge, they may have orders to go 
forth — with this commission, that if the Spanish fleet 
bear in with the Straits they may follow them, and so 
stand for the Gulf [of Venice], whither they will arrive 
first, because the Spanish fleet must stop at Messina. If 
the Spanish fleet go not to the southward, then the 
Venetians have no need of a supply, and the ships are 
ready to proceed on his Majesty's own designs. But if 
the Spanish fleet should dissolve, the ships being forth 
might be employed against the Turkish pirates.' ^ 

From this it is clear and worthy of note that what the 
Venetians feared Was not the galleys but the galleons 
that were being fitted out in the Atlantic ports. Main- 
waring's suggestion for meeting the whole situation was 
as ingenious as his strategy was sound. It was practi- 
cally the line the Dutch meant to take as preferable to 
that approved by James. Indeed, their answer to the 
English proposal was so unsatisfactory as to amount to a 
virtual refusal. They objected with some force that 
they had already twenty-five sail at sea, of which twenty- 
one were employed against the pirates. As for attacking 
Algiers, that would mean an act of war against *the 
Sultan of Constantinople,' with whom they were at 
peace, while as for protecting Venice, that would amount 
to a breach of their truce with Spain ; and, further, as 
they naively explained, they were allowing the Venetians 
to fit out four large men-of-war in Holland, although 
they had not asked so much, and had agreed that they 
should keep the eleven already in their service besides 
eight merchantmen that were also in their pay. Such 
an answer of course entirely upset James's great design, 
and notwithstanding the temptation of the scheme 
which Mainwaring had to offer in its place, it could 
not be thought of. Buckingham's dignity, if not the 
King's, could not submit to the hiring out of navy ships 
to a foreign power ; nor could the Commissioners con- 
sent to a project which would at the outset seriously 

» S.P. Dom. 1619, cv. 148. 


disturb the programme they had taken office to carry 

To confirm the impossibihty of proceeding with the 
King's original scheme, no satisfactory answer had yet 
been received from Spain with regard to the proposed 
joint operations, and, even if it came, such was the 
feehng at the time, both in Court and the country, that 
it became clearer every day that it was out of the ques- 
tion to expect Englishmen to act harmoniously with 
Spaniards. Fortunately, the deadlock mattered little. 
The King's astute design appears already to have done its 
work, and just about the time that the final answer of 
the Dutch was received, news arrived from Cottington, 
the British envoy in Madrid, that the Spanish prepara- 
tions were at an end. The tidings have a special interest 
of their own. The formation of a galley fleet was cer- 
tainly not suspended, and here, therefore, we have another 
proof of how obsolete galleys had become in the eyes of 
the Northern powers. They were clearly regarded as a 
negligible quantity. The whole apprehension had been 
for the sailing vessels which had been getting ready in 
the oceanic ports. Still the English preparations were 
not immediately relaxed. It was given out that Lord 
Southampton, the arch-enemy of Spain, was to be offered 
the command of the proposed fleet. It was not till April 
that the work on the ships was finally suspended, the col- 
lection stopped, and the money returned to the merchants 
on the understanding it was to be ready at short notice, 
in case the mobilisation had to be revived. 

The news that Cottington had sent was true. The 
Spanish Government, whatever their original intentions 
may have been, were now devoting their whole energy to 
removing the great flaw in their position by crushing the 
pirates. A fleet of sixty galleys assembled at Messina 
under the incompetent Prince Philibert of Savoy, on 
whose employment Philip relied for checking the designs 
of his turbulent father.^ The objective was Navarino, 
the most westerly naval station of the Turks ; but, accord- 

' Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy was the son of Charles Emmanuel, the 
reigning Duke, by the Infanta Catherine, sister of Phihp III. of Spain. 

G 2 


ing to Italian historians, the Duke of Osuna, in his 
jealousy of doing anything that would strengthen the 
position of the Venetians, succeeded in diverting the 
expedition into attempting a surprise of the port of 
Susa below Tunis. The attack failed ignominiously, and 
Philibert was driven off with severe loss. Nor did the 
galleons effect much more in the ocean. The annual 
convoys were safely brought in, but only two pirate 
vessels were taken, and so ended the campaign, leaving 
the corsairs as powerful as before, and even more confi- 
dent. James's stalking-horse was as good as ever, and 
there was every sign of its shelter being shortly required. 
The Emperor Mathias was dead, and Ferdinand of 
Styria claimed to succeed him as King of Bohemia, in virtue 
of his previous election. In August he was also elected 
Emperor, and the revolutionary Government in Bohemia, 
seeing the mistake they had made in choosing a Catholic 
King, determined not to receive him. By a solemn vote 
of the Estates he was deposed, and Frederick, the Prince 
Palatine, elected in his place. For a while James's 
feather-headed son-in-law hesitated. Almost every one 
advised him to refuse so thorny and dangerous a seat ; 
but his fair and high-spirited English wife urged him to 
accept, being sure of her father's support ; and finally he 
took the rash step that was his downfall. For long the 
elements that went to make up the Thirty Years' War 
had been smouldering hotter and hotter. This last touch 
set all in a glow, and at any moment men looked to see 
the flames burst out in uncontrollable fury. For all her 
long intriguing Spain w^as unready for the moment. Her 
one idea still was to keep the English sea power neutral. 
The mediation into which to this end she had tempted 
James had failed, and there was nothing left but to let 
herself be drawn into the net which he had so cleverly 
spread in her path. She could resist the pressure no 
longer, and a few days before the Prince Palatine's elec- 
tion preliminaries had been signed which accepted in 
principle the idea of joint action with England against 
the pirates. Instead of neutralising the dreaded force, 
she had opened the gate to admit it into the last place 


where she would like to have seen it. That arch-in- 
triguer and opportunist, the Duke of Savoy, with his 
eyes always on Genoa and Milan, was encouraging the 
Prince Palatine in his wildest dreams, and just when the 
two places were most vital to Spain for her communi- 
cations with the Emperor, she saw them once more 
threatened with a storm out of the North Sea. 

At the close of the year news reached England that 
Frederick had actually been crowned King of Bohemia. 
The people were wild with delight, and James, torn 
between anxiety and indignation, allowed the collections 
for a fleet against the Barbary pirates, which had been 
stopped in April, to be re-opened. At the end of October 
he had received from Holland the long-deferred answ^er to 
his original proposals for a league against the corsairs. 
With many excuses for the delay, the States informed him 
they had decided not to ratify the treaty which their 
consul had made at Algiers. They had now ready for 
sea a squadron of fourteen sail under Moy Lambert, of 
Eotterdam, that was about to cruise against the common 
enemy, and they intended to relieve him in the spring 
with an equal force. So long as their resources lasted, 
they meant to continue the efforts against the Moslem 
pest, but without his Majesty's powerful hand they saw 
small appearance of utterly suppressing it. ' Wherefore 
they humbly besought him to show himself therein, as 
well by good effects in arming against the pirates as 
he had done by his advice and counsel to their own 
State.' ^ 

Of this appeal little notice appears to have been taken. 
Although the maintenance of a permanent Mediterranean 
squadron which the Dutch proposed was exactly what 
all the English experts advised, James was too much 
incensed with the cold reception with which the Dutch 
had greeted the proposal, when he himself was hot about 
it, to treat them with much respect. Now, however, that 
the war fever about him was growing so high, he appears 
to have thought it best, as they said, * to show himself 
therein,' and he began in royal style. In January 1620 
» Carleton Letters, p. 397, October 22, 1019. 


it was announced that Sir Eobert Mansell, Vice-Admiral 
of the Kingdom and Lieutenant of the Koyal Navy, was 
to command the fleet, and for his second he was to have 
the famous Sir Eichard Hawkins, Vice-Admiral of Devon, 
the personification of all the finest traditions of the Eliza- 
bethan service. Eor moral effect no better choice could 
have been made. The official rank of Mansell would give 
the necessary dignity, while for Spanish seamen there lay 
in the name Hawkins terrors which made it second only 
to that of Drake. 

As for the fleet itself, it was serious enough to justify the 
anxiety that was felt in Spain. It was to consist of six 
of the best ships in the royal navy, ten powerful merchant- 
men, and two pinnaces, or eighteen sail in all.^ It was 
months, however, before the Navy Commissioners were 
allowed to get to work. The winter passed away and they 
were still without definite orders to proceed. For James, 
as for Elizabeth, it was one thing to decide on mobilising 
a fleet, and another to let it sail. Through the early part 
of 1620 he continued to sit in a fever of irresolution as to 
what attitude he should take to his son-in-law's position. 
As the opposing parties and opposing anxieties pushed 
him this way and that, he was worried beyond bearing 
and strove pitiably to put off a decision like a Penelope by 
sitting down to an exhaustive study of Bohemian con- 
stitutional law from the earliest times. By the end of 
January Philip, who feared war as much as James himself, 
had finally given in to the Duke of Bavaria's proposals 
for the partition of the Palatinate. This was followed 
in February by the arrival in London of Ambassadors 
from the German Protestant Union to claim James's 
assistance in defending the threatened State. At first he 
was furious at being called upon to help the reckless son- 
in-law who had refused to listen to his advice, but gradually 
he began to give way. There was also in London a 
certain Scottish soldier of fortune, a Colonel Gray, who 
had come from Bohemia in search of troops, and had 
brought with him not only letters from Frederick and the 
King's daughter, but also one written in pleading terms 
' See ;post, p. 99. 


by his little grandson.^ It seems greatly to have affected 
the old King, and Gray soon obtained permission to raise 
two regiments — one in England and one in Scotland. 

The war party was triumphant. At last it eeem^d 
they had the upper hand, when in the midst of their 
rejoicing Gondomar once more landed at Dover. Having 
been dragged into the struggle himself Philip was more 
than ever resolved that James and his navy must be 
kept out of it, and Gondomar's influence was his last 
hope. Every one knew what he had come for. He was 
met by Sir Henry Mainwaring, who not long after his 
return from Venice had been made Lieutenant of Dover 
Castle, probably to keep him quiet, and there he was 
sitting like a watchdog at the gate of the kingdom, allow- 
ing nothing to escape his keen eye. The Ambassador's 
reception was of the coldest. There was no salute and 
no banquet, but Mainwaring went down to the beach to 
receive him, ' for which courtesy,' as the reformed pirate 
wrote, ' he said in jest he would excuse me twelve crowns 
out of the million I owed to Spaniards if I would pay the 
rest.' A courtly jest enough, but one that showed the 
fangs, and so the two dogs growled and bristled, and 
Gondomar passed on. Colonel Gray's drums were beating 
merrily for the new regiments when he reached London, 
re-echoing those in the Spanish Netherlands, where 
Spinola w^as mobilising the Archduke's forces for what 
every one felt was an invasion of the Palatinate. Gray 
even halted insolently under the Ambassador's very 
window, and, amid the jeers of a sympathetic crowd, 
cried for all true men who would serve the King's son-in- 
law to come to the place appointed. In the night his 
broadside w^as even fixed to the Embassy door. I3ut all 
was of small avail. In a week the King w^as again in the 
hollow of Gondomar's hand, and the prospect of the fleet 
saihng for the Mediterranean seemed as far off as ever.^ 

If James wished to be a peacemaker he was letting 
his great opportunity shp. As the long truce between 
Spain and the Dutch w^as drawing to an end, Philip was 

» Salvetti, S^- 


no less disturbed than James at the prospect of war. He 
was wholly unprepared, and during the previous summer 
had had the most serious cause for anxiety about his 
position in the Mediterranean. The Duke of Osuna was 
still in power at Naples, and he was known to be chafing 
dangerously at the way the Government had treated his 
brilliant efforts to restore Spanish prestige upon the sea. 
The enforced failure of his grand scheme had been fol- 
lowed by orders to send troops by way of Trieste to rein- 
force the Emperor for his operations against Bohemia, 
and to get them there quietly he had been told that the 
permission of the Venetians was to be asked. He was 
also ordered to replace the troops in the Milanese, which 
were going by land to the Netherlands under the Duke of 
Savoy's sanction, with the best of his own, and, worst of 
all, there was fresh talk of breaking up his fleet. His 
term of office was coming to an end, but there was grave 
-anxiety whether he would lay it down quietly. In July a 
report had reached London that he had actually revolted 
and set up an independent kingdom at Naples in alliance 
with France and Venice. For some weeks this news, 
which, if true, would have entirely changed the balance 
of power in the Mediterranean, was the talk of the town.^ 
Nothing, however, came of the alarm, but it was quickly 
followed by the discovery of a league between Venice 
and Holland which was almost as bad. Every week the 
atmosphere grew more warlike, and James, beside himself 
with irresolution, w^as blubbering to Gondomar over his 
hard fate to be king in such a world. PhiHp, as anxious 
as himself, was writing in the most serious terms to the 
Archduke in Brussels to warn him against the danger he 
was running in meddling with the Bohemian quarrel. If 
his general, Spinola, were permitted to attack the Pala- 
tinate, it would mean certain war with England, and 
that, as Philip urged, had always been considered the 
most impolitic thing a Spanish king could take in hand. 

Still of this James knew nothing. At Deptford and 
Chatham little or nothing was being done to prepare the 
fleet till suddenly in the first week in April, just a month 
' SaJvetti, July 4-9. 


after Gondomar's landing, the Navy Commissioners re- 
ceived orders to push on the work with all speed. ^ The 
reason of the sudden change is not quite clear. Salvetti 
beheved that it was because Osuna, whose fleet, to prevent 
a recurrence of the late alarm, had been broken up, had 
been ordered to send some of his galleons to Cadiz. ^ It 
is also worthy of note that, a few days later, Mainwaring 
at Dover sent up word that transports carrying some 
two thousand Spanish troops had touched there, bound 
for the Archduke's port of Dunkirk. But, whatever the 
cause, from that time the dockyards were in full swing. 
The King might be a baby in Gondomar's hands, but it 
was another task to control the powerful war party at 
Court. Already Gondomar had had a rebuff to warn him. 
Captain Koger North, one of Ealegh's old companions, 
had fitted out a small expedition for South America 
in which several influential persons were interested. 
The Amazons was said to be its destination, and the 
Ambassador had demanded its arrest. North had already 
left the Thames ; but about the same time that the Navy 
Commissioners received their instructions to proceed with 
the fleet, Gondomar received an order under the Great 
Seal that North was to be stayed at Plymouth. A 
month later, news came that North had sailed before the 
order reached him. Gondomar was naturally incensed. 
To appease him a proclamation against the offender was 
issued and a royal pinnace sent in pursuit of him. Of 
course it never found him. It was like the old times of 
Hawkins and Drake over again, when such escapades 
were of yearly occurrence, and the prospects of the war 
party grew brighter than ever. 

When in April Salvetti announced to his Government 
that the fleet was to be mobilised, he had said he was 
sure it could not be ready for sea under two or three 
months. It really took longer, partly for lack of money, 
and partly perhaps because it was not intended that it 

« Coke MSS., p. 107. 

2 Xews Letter, April 21 to May 1. Three of Osuna's galleons left Naples 
on April 8-18 aud reached Gibraltar May 20-30. Docianentos hUditos, 
xlvii. 418-19. 


should sail before August. The fact was that Gondomar, 
to whom the unwelcome negotiations for the combined 
operations against the corsairs had been confided, was 
doing everything in his power to render them abortive. 
The principle of the arra^^gement was that each country- 
was to provide a fleet of twenty sail which were to keep 
the seas from May till October for three years, and 
Gondomar was stipulating for a system of co-operation 
which he must have known would never be accepted by 
the English seamen. The fleets were to act in two sepa- 
rate squadrons, one within and one without the Straits ; 
and as James insisted on his own fleet taking the Medi- 
terranean station, Gondomar was proposing, with the 
obvious intention of keeping a watch on it and neu- 
tralising its initiative, that six vessels from the Spanish 
squadron should be attached to it, and that their place 
should be filled by six British ships being placed under 
the Spanish admiral for service with him outside the 
Straits. He further desired, with an equally obvious in- 
tention of gaining time, that the British fleet, instead of 
going straight to its allotted station, should begin opera- 
tions with a cruise on the north coast of Spain. ^ 

To all appearance Spain was perfectly ready to abide 
by her promise. Osuna's galleons had come round to 
Cadiz, and a fleet was out ostensibly awaiting the arrival 
of the Enghsh squadron. But it was understood in Spain 
that Mansell would not move till every detail was settled ; 
and secure in Gondomar's skill the Spanish Government 
was easy that nothing could be done for that season at 
least. Towards the end of May, however, they were sur- 
prised by a sudden announcement from Sir Walter Aston, 
James's new Ambassador at Madrid, that Sir Eobert 
Mansell would sail about the end of July, and that in the 
meanwhile he had instructions to settle with them the 
small points of detail which were still outstanding. The 
King his master hoped, in spite of the differences that 
had arisen, co-operation could be arranged, but in any case 

_ _ > Aston MSS. vol. ii. {B.M. Add. 36445) fol. 11. Copy of Articles for 
joint action dc. These articles recite the original negotiations of Digby in 


he meant to carry the ph'ate business through. The 
ministers were aghast. They protested it was never in- 
tended that the English fleet should move till everything 
had been settled. They even accused the Ambassador of 
having sent for the ships, and on the plea that the matter 
was in Gondomar's hands they flatly refused to negotiate. 

All was in vain. Their sullen resistance only brought 
them a still severer shock. About a month later, after 
having reported their attitude home, Aston received 
instructions to inform the Spanish Government that 
James had made up his mind to undertake the pirates 
single-handed. Their position was completely turned, and 
ten days afterwards Buckingham notified to Gondomar 
ofiicially that Mansell would sail between August 5 and 10, 
and go straight to the Mediterranean.^ The following 
day, July 20, Mansell's commission as Admiral and Cap- 
tain-General was signed, and though the dockyards were 
already working at high pressure, the King sent down 
to urge still greater efforts, since he particularly wanted 
the fleet to be at Plymouth by August 10.^ 

The only explanation of this date to be found is that 
two Dutch squadrons were on the point of sailing for 
their usual station off the Straits. There was no actual 
arrangement for joint operations, nor much prospect of 
the seamen of the two nations acting cordially together, 
owing to the outrageous way in which, in spite of the late 
treaties, the Dutch continued to behave to English ships in 
the Far East. Yet experts agreed that the best way to 
deal with the corsairs was to have two squadrons cruising 
outside the Straits and two within, and further that 
August or September was the best time for them to reach 
the station so as to allow the pirate fleet to leave the 

• Asfon MSS. vol. i. {Add. 3G444) Digby to Aston, May 19. Aston to 
Digby in reply, fol. 156, and Aston's Letter Book, ibid. vol. vi. July 9. 
Bucldngliam to Gondomar (copy), ibid. vol. i. July 19. 

2 Salvetti {News Letter, July 20-30 and July 27 to Aug. G-7) says the 
rendezvous of the fleet was ' a distant port about eighty miles from here,' 
i.e. liondon. His distances are so vague that this is no guide. Ho calls 
Windsor a town sixteen or eighteen miles from London, riymouth was 
always the final rendezvous of south-going fleets. In a later letter of 
Aug. 2-12 he calls the port ' BerocHa in the province of Hamptonia.' 


Mediterranean for its usual cruise for the Spanish autumn 
convoys and to prevent its ever getting back.^ It may, how- 
ever, be also noticed that at the same time Digby received 
orders to hold himself in readiness to receive his final 
instructions as Ambassador Extraordinary to Spain, and at 
such a moment even the apparent co-operation of the two 
powers in Spanish waters would not be without its value.^ 

Finally, it was not till September 7 that the fleet got 
clear of the Thames and came to anchor in the Downs — 
behind time it is true, but not more so than was usual even 
in the best days of Elizabeth. The Dutch were as much 
behindhand as the English. On August 8 Carleton at the 
Hague had sent over word that a deputation of the States 
had waited on him to say that they were going to send a 
fleet of twenty sail against the Algerines under Haultain, 
Admiral of Zeeland, which was to sail early in October. 
As the King was doing the same, they hoped the two 
fleets might act as one, and if he consented they w^re 
ready to instruct their officers accordingly. To this 
humble proposal the King returned an equally conde- 
scending answ^er. He reminded them of the coldness 
with which they had received a similar proposal when he 
was graciously pleased to make it, and of their outrageous 
behaviour to his subjects in the East Indies. Still, if 
they really w^ere in earnest, in the cause of Christendom 
he was ready to forget and forgive. Only they had to 
some extent lost their chance. He was now sending his 
fleet into the Mediterranean under a definite agreement 
with the King of Spain. He was no longer free to make 
engagements with other states for assistance. Still, if the 
two fleets did happen to meet, he for his part would not 
refuse their help in so good a cause. ^ 

The two fleets did happen to meet, and that very 
quickly. In the Downs Mansell found a squadron of six- 
teen Zeeland ships under Haultain. Twenty more from 

' See Monson's advice to the Council, 1617, Tracts, p. 251. And of. 
Adrice of a Seaman (Math. Knott, gent.), touching the expedition intended 
against the Turkish Pirates, 1634,' Harl MSS. 6893. 

- Salvetti, July 20-30. Digby did not in fact leave England till the 
following year, and then not for Spain. 

^ Carleton Letters, pp. 485, 491. 


Holland were daily expected, but they intended to sail 
independently because, although they were commanded 
by a vice-admiral only, they would not sail under a 
Zeeland admiral, nor would the Zeeland admiral give up 
the prerogative of his superior rank. The wind was foul 
and Mansell seized the opportunity to come up to London 
with all his captains to bid the King farewell and also to 
seek final instructions as to how he was to act. This was 
probably the main reason. Mansell's commission con- 
templated, as the central operation, a demand of satisfac- 
tion, supported by a demonstration before Algiers, and 
to be followed in certain eventualities by an attempt to 
destroy their ships within the mole. The Dutch, on the 
other hand, like all the English experts, condemned the 
attempt, and were unanimously in favour of achieving 
their end by systematic cruising in the open sea. Thus 
the two admirals must have found themselves from the 
outset faced with a difficulty which, unless removed, 
would render concerted action almost impossible. There 
was, moreover, the further uncertainty that Gondomar 
was still holding back, and no definite agreement had been 
come to with Spain. The King was at Windsor, and it 
was a week or more before Mansell and his troop of 
captains regained the fleet. They brought with them full 
and detailed instructions for the conduct of the expedition, 
but in the interval they had missed a wind, and the Dutch 
had apparently passed on.^ 

Then followed weeks of waiting. No news came up 
from Plymouth that the fleet had finally sailed. It was 
a critical delay. The splendid equipment of the ships, 
wherein, as Salvetti wrote, not even music for dancing 
was omitted, and the glittering appearance of Mansell 
and his cavalcade of captains had set every one whisper- 
ing that something more than pirates was in the wind. 
Some believed the Court was waiting for news from 
Germany which might change the fleet's destination. 
Others scented the influence of the Spanish Ambassador. 

' Salvetti, Letters of September. The Journal of the Algiers Voyage, 
S.P. Dom. ccxxii. 70. Mansell's instructions are dated Sept. 10. See post 
pp. 100, 101. 


Neither ox3inion was perhaps groundless. A different 
destination for the two fleets had actually been suggested 
from Holland — not officially, but privately by a member 
of the Government — probably with the intention of feeling 
the ground. The King, ' according to his wonted sin- 
cerity,' chose to appear highly displeased at the proposal, 
and Carleton had orders to express ' his Majesty's dislike 
and detestation thereof.' What the obnoxious design 
was we do not know, but the Spanish Governor of Milan 
was already stirring about the head of Lake Como with 
the obvious intention of securing, by the seizure of the 
Valtelline, an all- Spanish line of communication with 
Vienna by way of the Tyrol, and the way by which his 
move could best be parried was a blow at Genoa, the key 
of the whole route. 

As for the part Gondomar was playing, he had suc- 
ceeded in confirming the King in his faint-hearted ideas. 
He had persuaded him that his duty to his daughter and 
his son-in-law extended only to preserving the Palatinate, 
and not to supporting their usurpation of Bohemia ; and 
further that Spinola's army, which was already in motion, 
was only intended to support the Emperor's just claims 
to the disputed kingdom. James indeed was getting 
more dangerously irresolute than ever. Then, in spite of 
Gondomar' s shameless assurances, came the news that 
Spinola had actually entered the Palatinate. James was 
naturahy beside himself at the way he had been gulled, 
and the guilty Ambassador was at his wit's end. From 
Madrid he had been receiving more m'gent orders than 
ever that Mansell's fleet must on no account be allowed 
to sail, and here was his royal dupe quite out of hand. 
The infuriated old King was openly declaring he was going 
to send an army to his son-in-law's rescue, and the Court 
was exulting at the prospect of war in the spring. 

Gondomar's last hope lay in Digby. Among all the 
diverse hands that were stirring the seething caldron there 
was none so masterly as his. No man had kept his head 
so level or seen his way so clearly how to preserve the 
peace of Europe with honour and distinction. If any 
hope in that wave of war fever were to be found, it was 


in him, and to him Gondomar played his last card. In 
pursuance of the King of Spain's agreement for joint 
action against the pirates, it had been settled that Man- 
sell's fleet was to be allowed the free use of Spanish ports. 
Gondomar now explained that, in view of the King's 
hostile attitude, this could not be permitted. An English 
fleet could no longer be regarded as friendly. It was a 
clever move, but Digby was equal to it. He pointed out 
that in the excited state of public opinion the King could 
not possibly have said less than he had. If Gondomar 
chose to regard the royal declaration otherwise than as 
a friendly effort to amuse his anti- Spanish councillors 
and to preserve peace, it could not be helped, and if he 
had authority to break with England he had better say 
so at once. For whatever the King of Spain thought of 
the fleet, it would certainly sail. It was impossible for 
the baffled Ambassador to say another word. With Digby 
in this frame of mind he knew it was useless to protest 
further. On October 3 Sir Eichard Hawkins received his 
commission as vice-admiral, and a week later, just when 
the Spaniards were comfortably assuring themselves the 
danger was over for the season, and had recalled their 
fleet into Cadiz for the winter, with no prospect of being 
able to get to sea again before the spring, Mansell cleared 
the Lizard.^ 

' Aston to Digby, Oct. 13. For the other authorities on these nego- 
tiations, see Gardiner, History of England, iii. ST-l-o, note. Add, MSS, 



' In James's unhappy reign,' the highest authority on the 
period has written, * the true poHcy of England is to be 
found, not in the manifestoes of its sovereign or in the 
despatches of its ministers, but in the memorials in which 
Spanish statesmen expressed their apprehension.' As we 
watch Europe drifting like an ill-steered ship into the 
whirlpool of the Thirty Years' War, our attention is again 
and again arrested at points where it seems that a little 
vigorous and intelligent action on the part of England 
might have arrested its fatal course. At no point is this 
consideration so striking as when Mansell put to sea, 
bound for the Mediterranean. It was the eleventh hour, 
it is true. Long before the fleet reached its destination 
the battle of Prague had been fought and the Prince Pala- 
tine was a fugitive from his new Bohemian dominions. 
Still there was time. Winter was at hand to stop further 
mihtary action ; it lay in Spain's power to say that the 
quarrel must go no further, and Spain, helpless and 
unprepared, w^as staring at what it would mean for her 
upon the sea if she withheld the word to halt. 

It is not by its fighting power that the importance of 
Mansell's little fleet must be measured. Eor Spain, and 
indeed for the Empire, it meant something more than 
the number of its crews and the power of its guns. For 
Spain it raised the spectre with which she had been 
haunted ever since Drake had first appeared upon her 
coasts — the spectre of an alliance between the infidel 
corsairs and the heretic powers of the Korth. It was a 
coalition she knew she dared not face ; it was a fear that 
was not entirely without foundation. It may even be that 
the suggestion, which on the eve of Mansell's departure 
reached James from some exalted personage in Holland 


and which he so deeply ' disHked and detested,' was some- 
thing of this nature — something which would at least 
have rendered the allied fleets independent of Spanish 
ports. Every one knew of the as yet unratified conven- 
tion which the Dutch had negotiated with the Barbary 
states, and Englishmen who were scarcely less well treated 
b}^ them might easily do the same. Nor must it be for- 
gotten that, when Drake and Norreys were aiming at an 
occupation of Portugal, and again when Essex had posses- 
sion of Cadiz, some steps had certainly been taken for using 
Morocco as a base of supply, and the Christians' overtures 
had been well received. It w^as these memories perhaps 
that forced Philip into agreeing to allow his ports to be 
used by Mansell's fleet. It w^ould be like a thorn in his 
side ; but better so than to see it acting from Africa. As 
he well knew^ his banished Moriscos were ready to wel- 
come with open arms any one that would help them to 
their revenge on Spain, and the older race of corsairs were 
scarcely less ready to avert the anger of the men who had 
taught them their art and were all they feared upon the 
sea. This was what the little fleet meant for Spain at a 
moment when the battle of Prague had raised the war 
fever in England to boiling point, and when the twelve 
years' truce with the Dutch had not six months to live. 

Nor does this aspect of the expedition represent for us 
all its importance. Were it only for the poor results it 
achieved, its fortunes would scarcely be worth following. 
The dawn of England's career as a Mediterranean power 
was as unpromising as her first attempts at colonisation. 
There was no trace discernible of how it was destined to 
press upon the world and force history into the channels 
in which it flows to-day. Yet Mansell's fleet was the 
beginning, and we must see in it the pale dawn of all 
that it heralded. England was about to step into the 
primeval arena upon which the greatest dramas of 
dominion had found their catastrophe. It was here 
upon the sea which the three continents embraced that 
empire had broken empire since the ages began in un- 
ending strife, and for the first time the British navy was 
entering its bloodstained waters. For Englishmen at 
I. II 


least it proved to be one of the most momentous de- 
partures in history, redeeming a contemptible reign from 
much of its insignificance ; and as we see the little 
squadron thus trailing, as it were, a fiery wake behind it 
across the Bay, it glows with an attraction too real and 
too romantic for us not to linger a while over its fortunes. 

The men to whom fell the unrealised distinction of 
inaugurating the new era were probably the best at the 
King's disposal. With the two chief flag-officers the only 
fault to be found was that neither of them had been 
employed at sea for many years, Mansell not since 1604, 
when he began his disastrous career as Treasurer of the 
Navy, and Hawkins not since 1594, when he was taken 
prisoner during his raid into the South Sea after fighting 
for three days an overwhelmingly superior force. Since 
then a quarter of a century had passed. In the interval he 
had suffered in breach of the laws of war a long and harsh 
imprisonment in Spain which had severely impaired his 
health, and he was now nearly sixty years of age. His 
appointment was no doubt partly due to the influence of 
the merchants, a committee of whom, in accordance with 
the precedent of Elizabeth's last years, was acting jointly 
with the Navy Commissioners in superintending the 
expedition. He appears to have been highly esteemed 
in the City, and in these cases the London merchants 
usually expected to have the naming of the vice or rear 
admiral in order to insure that their own ships at least 
should not be entirely at the mercy of courtier officers.^ 
Possibly, too, he had the powerful support of the Prince 
of Wales. Hawkins had just completed his * Observa- 
tions ' on his voyage into the South Sea, the most valu- 
able work that had yet been written on the naval art, 
and at his death in 1622 a dedication to Prince Charles 
was found among his papers.^ 

The rear-admiral was Sir Thomas Button, who had 
first brought himself into notice when in 1600 the 
Spaniards occupied Kinsale. He then succeeded in boldly 
holding the harbour with a single pinnace till reinforce- 

' See Drake and the Tudor Navy, ii. 13, 69, note. Tlw Hawkins 
Voyages (Hakhiyt Society, 1878), Introd. p. xxxviii. 
2 Ibid., pp. 85, 87. 




ments arrived, and since then he had been almost con- 
tinually employed against pirates in the Narrow Seas. 
About 1612 he had been sent under the auspices of Prince 
Henry on an expedition to explore the North-west pas- 
sage, and had been so far successful as to establish the fact 
that there was no western outlet from Hudson's Bay. 
Latterly he had been serving as admiral on the Irish 
station, and had thrown up his appointment at Mansell's 
request, expecting to be made his vice-admiral — a claim 
which after some demur he had handsomely surrendered 
in Hawkins's favour. Among the ship commanders, 
though several, like Sir Arthur Mainwaring, appear to 
have been gentlemen of more spirit and influence than 
knowledge or experience of their duties, there was a 
leaven of the best type of Ealegh's men, hke Samuel 
Argall, just home from Virginia, and others like Sir John 
Fearne and Christopher Harris, who had recently served 
a valuable apprenticeship as pirate captains themselves.^ 

• The full list of the fleet as given in the Journal of the Algiers Voyage, 
S.P. Dom. ccxxii. 106, is as under : — 





EoYAL Navy: 

' Lion ' . . . . 




Sir R. Mansell. 

'Vanguard' . 




Sir E. Hawkins. 

' Eainbow ' . . . 




Sir T. Button. 

' Constant Heforraation ' . 




[Sir] Arth. Mainwaring. 

* Antelope ' . . . 




Sir Hy. Palmer. 

' Convertine ' . 




Thos. Love. 

Merchantmen : 

' Golden Phoenix ' . 




Sam. Argall. 

' Samuel ' . . . 




Chris. Harris. 

' Marygold ' . . . 




Sir J. Fearne. 

' Zouch Phoenix ' 




John Penington. 

' Barbary '. . 




Thos. Porter. 

* Centurion ' . 



Sir Fr. Tanfield. 

' Primrose ' . . . 




Sir John Hampden. 





Eusabey Cave. 

' Neptune ' . . . 



Robt. Hau'Thton. 

' Merchant Bonaventura ' 




John ChicUey or Chud- 

' Restore ' (pinnace) 




George Raymond. 

' Marmaduke ' (pinnace) . 




Thos. Hughes. 

All the merchantmen had iron guns, the R.N. brass, 
was Ralegh's ' Destiny,' confiscated. 

The ' Convertine ' 


For his conduct of the expedition Mansell's critics 
have always treated him with merciless contempt. Their 
cue is taken from Monson, who, with his usual haste and 
lack of information, acrimoniously condemned the cam- 
paign from beginning to end. It may be doubted, how- 
ever, whether the blame lay with the admirals. When 
they returned home they excused their failure on the 
ground * that the want of authority and their limited 
commission was the cause of their^ill success.' This, as 
Monson allows, ' was afterwards 'admitted %y all men ' ; 
but he himself, in his ignorance of the dual object of the 
expedition, treated the plea as absurd. Fortunately, after 
nearly three centuries of oblivion, a copy of Mansell's in- 
structions has come to light to secure him a fair hearing, 
and to emphasise the injustice of condemning an admiral's 
strategy without a full knowledge of the political con- 
siderations that deflected it.^ 

Though in form they of course disclose nothing but 
an intended campaign against the Barbary corsairs, they 
are framed in such a way as to secure a diversion of the 
expedition on the shortest possible notice. The admiral 
is informed that his object is to extirpate pirates, especi- 
ally in the Mediterranean, whither he is to go direct, 
taking care to keep as close inshore down the coast of the 
Peninsula as possible on the look-out for any communica- 
tion the Ambassador at Madrid may send him. Though 
no definite arrangement had been come to, he is to hold 
good correspondence with the Spanish and Dutch fleets, 
but on no account is he to intervene in their quarrels. 
In complete disregard of Gondomar's proposals, he was 
given Gibraltar for his rendezvous, whither he was to 
proceed as quickly as possible and inquire for orders from 
Aston. The plan of action enjoined also ignored the 
suggestions for the fusion of the two fleets, for he 
was told to leave the Atlantic station entirely to the 
Spaniards, and take the whole of his force into the 
Straits. Then we have the important caution that on 

' Aston Papers, vol. ii. f. 15 {Add. MSS. 36445). The instructions 
were signed on Sept. 10, 1620, during Mansell's farewell visit to Windsor. 


no account was he to attempt any hostile act against 
the town or castles of Algiers ' for fear of its strength 
and the Grand Signior's amity.' He was to proceed 
by diplomacy, presenting a letter from the King and 
demanding the surrender of captured ships, the resti- 
tution of prize goods, and the release of captives. If he 
obtained this he might endeavour by force or stratagem 
to burn the pirate fleet within the mole, but only with 
great caution, so as not to hazard his Majesty's ships. 
In cruising he was further cautioned that he was not to 
go east of Cape Spartivento, at the southern end of 
Sardinia, unless the weather or a chase compelled him. 
It will be seen that this prohibition insured as far as 
possible that his operations should not draw him out 
of that part of the Mediterranean which lay between 
Spain and her North Italian possessions, so that his 
fleet might remain a constant menace if any attempt 
were contemplated to send assistance to the Emperor 
by sea. It is equally significant that he was not to risk 
the fighting efliciency of his fleet by hazardous attacks 
on pirate ports, and that he was, if possible, to obtain satis- 
faction without fighting at all. Negotiations would not 
only serve to keep up the pretence of stopping piracy, 
but would tend to securing an African base should war 
break out with Spain. Considering the state of affairs 
abroad and of public opinion in England when Man sell 
sailed, nothing was more likely, and we may well be- 
lieve that the English Government at such a time had 
no intention of throwing away a fleet in rashly attack- 
ing the most ruthless enemy of Spain. With these 
considerations in mind we may follow the expedition 
with more sympathy than its commanders have usually 

On October 29 the fleet made Cape St. Vincent, 
where Mansell sent ashore for the ' letters of advice ' he 
had been told to expect. He was burning for news. From 
a ship that followed him he had learnt that, the very day 
after he sailed, letters in hot haste had come into Plymouth 
for him from the Court, and they were known to be of the 
utmost importance, for the messenger rode with a halter 


round his neck.^ But there were no letters awaiting him, 
and he passed at once to his rendezvous and anchored afc 
Gibraltar. Here he found the Spanish vice-admiral with 
two galleons, and from him learnt that the pirates had 
been particularly active, having recently sacked a small 
Spanish port and threatened Gibraltar itself. But from 
Aston there was not a word. He resolved to carry on, 
and, in accordance with his instructions, arranged with 
the Spanish officer to cruise within the Straits between 
Gibraltar and Minorca, ' being,' as he says, ' the limits 
of my charge,' while the Spaniards cruised outside.^ 
This was agreed to, and further that Man sell should be 
allowed to land his sick men at Gibraltar and lodge them 
in quarters specially prepared for them. 

These arrangements completed, Mansell passed on to 
Malaga, where he met with a most flattering reception 
from the authorities. Still it w^as the worst port in the 
south-east of Spain, and it says little for the good faith of 
the Spaniards, or their confidence in their allies, that it 
had been fixed as the headquarters of the English fleet 
while it was upon the coast. Here the Admiral hoped 
for his final orders without fail, but not a line had come 
for him nor a word of the Spanish contingent of oared 
craft which he had been led to expect. After waiting a 
day he decided to despatch an officer immediately to the 
Ambassador at Madrid, and without further loss of time 
to take a cast up the coast as far as Alicante in search of 
the pirates who had been so active, and in hopes of finding 
his instructions there. ^ 

On November 7 he sailed with the three squadrons of 
his fleet disposed in echelon and his starboard and sea- 
ward squadron advanced, while the few light craft he had 
kept close inshore to probe the bays and inlets. Baffling 
winds were encountered^ and it was not till the 19th 
that he made Alicante without having seen a single 
pirate sail. It was clear his presence must have frightened 
them from the coast. At Alicante there was still not a 

^ Mansell to Aston, Nov. 5. Aston Papers, vol. i. 
2 Mansell to Calvert, March 15, 1621. S.P., Spain. 
^ Mansell to Aston, Nov. 5. Aston Papers, i. 


line to guide him, and he despatched yet another officer 
to Cartagena. Nothing is more eloquent of the uncertain 
object of the expedition than this incessant anxiety for 
orders. There was still no news of the Spanish con- 
tingent, and the Dutch fleet, he heard, having reached 
Gibraltar after he had left and learned his arrangement 
with the Spanish admiral, had passed on to Tunis and the 
Levant. He was thus at a loss what to do ; but rather 
than be idle it was resolved, perhaps not too wisely, to 
sail at once for Algiers in order to present the King's 
demands, and in doing so to make a full reconnaissance 
of the whole position. 

There they anchored on November 27 with ' white 
ensigns flying from the poops of the Admiral and Eear- 
Admiral,' but without showingf other colours or firing: 
any salute. In reply to a flag of truce they were informed 
that the Pasha had orders from Constantinople to treat 
with them and furnish supplies. With that negotiations 
began, and the King's letter was presented. It demanded 
the immediate surrender of all British prisoners, ships, 
and goods then in the port, and satisfaction for the 
hundred and fifty vessels the corsairs had taken or de- 
stroyed during the past six years. The answer was that 
no reply could be given till the Divan had been sum- 
moned, and that would take a week. Mansell decided to 
wait, and so far was he from intending any hostilities that, 
in view of the dangerous nature of the Eoad, he struck his 
topmasts and yards, and made all snug to ride out the 
negotiations, which threatened to be not a little tedious. 
No sooner was he thus helpless than vessels began to 
pass in and out continuously. Having lost all his * long- 
boats ' in a gale, and being without regular pinnaces, he 
was powerless to interfere, and he soon ascertained that 
the Algerines were busy forcing all their best English 
prisoners aboard and sending them out to sea. Mansell 
protested, and the corsairs promised to desist, but with 
no intention of doing so. 

Meanwhile six Spanish men-of-war appeared. They 
excused their intrusion into the English sphere of opera- 
tions by alleging that they were in chase of some pirates 


who had recently taken a large ship off Cartagena ; but 
Mansell was well aware this was not their real object. 
Six vessels, it will be remembered, was the contingent 
which Gondomar had demanded should be attached to 
the British squadron, and there can be no doubt that they 
had been sent to see what Mansell was doing. Finding 
him quietly anchored in the road and in constant com- 
munication with the shore, their worst suspicions were 
aroused. The haunting fear that England meant to 
ally herself with the corsairs hurried them to the convic- 
tion that they had caught Mansell in the act of hatching 
the dreaded plot. In hope apparently of provoking 
hostilities they opened fire on the batteries of Algiers, 
but finding this without effect they retired, and without 
further inquiry held aw^ay for Spain to report Mansell's 

Meanwhile, w^ithout suspicion of what wore the 
Spaniards' unhandsome intentions, Mansell loyally pro- 
ceeded with his negotiation. The following day the answer 
to the King's demands was received. It promised to de- 
liver up the prisoners and begged for the appointment of 
a consul to settle the other demands. On the morrow 
forty miserable wretches were sent off, and the admirals 
saw clearly they were being played with. They resolved, 
therefore, in order to secure the return of their hostages, 
and perhaps lull the Algerines into security, to send off 
a common man who was willing to play the part of 
Consul. They had ascertained that the English prizes, 
instead of being prepared for delivery, were being un- 
rigged and unloaded, and that, in spite of the engage- 
ment, English prisoners had been continually forced to 
sea. Clearly more drastic measures would be needed, and 
after a vigorous protest to the Pasha they held away for 
Cagliari in Sardinia. Their object was probably merely 
to get wood and water, for on the wind coming easterly 
they put about for Minorca, and on December 14 anchored 
there in Alcudia Bay, fuming at the instructions which 
forced them to play so tame a part. 

' Mansell to Aston, Jan. 13, 1621. Aston Papers, vol. ii. 

1620 NEW PLANS 105 

It was indeed a lame beginning, and it is impossible 
not to believe their angry protestation that they would 
never have been contented to be so baffled had their in- 
structions permitted a rougher answer. They were men, 
we must remember, who had given plenty of hard blows 
before, who had come out in the pride and prestige 
of the new sea powder, and surrounded by all the splen- 
dour and dignity of the King's service, to show Dutch- 
men and Spaniards once for all how the vermin of the 
sea were to be stamped out. They had been insulted 
and abused, so they said, as never were the bearers of 
a royal message before. They thirsted for revenge, and, 
had the least discretion been allowed them, they would 
certainly have done something to take it there and 
then. As it was, all they could do was to send home for 
authority to act with vigour and leave to remain out for 
another period of six months.^ 

Meanwhile they had no intention of remaining idle. 
Since they entered the Mediterranean they had learned 
enough to know how to occupy themselves profitably 
in the interval. The idea was for the main fleet, as 
soon as it had revictualled and watered and picked up the 
supplies and pinnaces which had been promised from 
England, to return to cruise off Algiers. There it would 
lie in wait while the pinnaces and promised Spanish 
oared craft beat up the coast and drove the corsairs into 
its clutches. They had learned already it was only in the 
open sea and stormy w^eather — when they had a wdiole 
day to chase, ' and so much wind as to overbear them 
with sail ' — that they could hope to catch the nimble 
pirates. On Christmas night, as they passed from Alcudia 
to Alicante, still hoping for orders, they had actually 
fallen into the middle of a corsair squadron. It was a 
squally night, and Button had caught one of them within 
musket shot. Several times he raked her through and 

' Mansell to Buckingham, Alicante, January 13, 1621, HarUiayi MSS. 
1581, f. 70. See also a memorandum concerning proposals for giving him 
a freer hand, especially ' for his night attempts and for his day battery,' 
and extending his cruising ground as far east as Cephalonia, in S.P. Dom. 
cxix. 141. 


through. The crash of her timbers and the screams of 
the womided could be heard in the darkness again and 
again, yet she and all her consorts escaped. In those 
confined seas, as Man sell complained, the corsairs could 
sail the royal ships out of sight in four hours. 

The plan proposed might possibly have overcome the 
difficulty, but it was not destined to be tried. At Alicante 
there was still no news, and while they lay there at a loss 
how to act they had to witness the Spaniards boisterously 
celebrating the battle of Prague and the dethronement 
of their own Princess Eoyal. It was a poor substitute 
for the galleys they expected, and relations between the 
shore and the ships were far from pleasant. Their 
annoyance was further aggravated by finding the pre- 
viously cordial demeanoar of the Spaniards had changed 
to a barely disguised insolence. The ugly report of the 
Spanish admiral had done its work, and Mansell saw no 
chance of getting the assistance he required for chastising 
the arrogance of Algiers. He wrote a strong protest to 
Aston explaining the whole affair, and begging him to put 
things right. He assured the Ambassador that, ' contrary 
to ill-informed opinion of its strength,' Algiers might easily 
be destroyed by bombardment. He had written to the 
Lord Admiral to sanction the attempt. All he required 
was a contingent of galleys and smaller oared craft. 
' If,' he said, ' the Spaniards will give us the means as by 
the capitulations agreed, we will give a greater blow in a 
day this next spring than all Christendom has done with 
all their endeavours since the pirates first began to make 

Meanwhile, in spite of the ill-behaviour of the 
Spaniards, he resolved to do his best to protect their 
commerce ; but, though detachments of the fleet were 
continually putting to sea on tidings of pirates being 
about, not a single vessel was seen, much less captured. 

^ Mansell to Aston, Jan. 13, 1621, and another later undated, Aston 
Papers, vol. ii. Mansell seems to have thought that a ' capitulation ' had been 
signed, but the paper he inclosed is only a copy of Gondomar's draft pro- 
posals with the English counter-proposals in the margin. Aston's report 
on the Spanish admiral's accusation, ibid. 136. 


It was not till the second week in January 1621 that the 
longed-for despatches arrived, just as Mansell was writing 
off again pleading more earnestly than ever for an enlarge- 
ment of his powers, so as to cover his intended attack 
on Algiers harbour. They were dated from England on 
November 23, and informed him that he was to continue 
in the Mediterranean for another six months, and that his 
pinnaces and victuals were coming to Malaga. Hawkins 
and his squadron were immediately sent thither to receive 
them and cover that coast till they arrived, while Mansell 
and Button between them w^atched Cartagena and Alicante. 
Still no prizes were met with, and at the end of the month 
Mansell gave orders for the whole fleet to concentrate on 
Hawkins at Malaga. On the way thither he fell in with 
Haultain, the Zeeland Admiral, with seven sail in com- 
pany. The truce between Spain and Holland was on the 
point of expiring, and nothing definite had yet been done 
to secure its prolongation. A renewal of the war was looked 
for in a few weeks, and Haultain said he had twenty-two 
vessels in all cruising within and without the Straits. 
Eager to deal the pirates a blow while the truce lasted, 
he proposed a joint attack upon Algiers, but this Mansell 
says he refused ; and yet so suspicious were the Spaniards 
that he was immediately accused of conspiring some 
new perfidy with the Dutch. ^ Next day he and Button 
were driven back to Alicante and did not sail ac:ain for 
a week. In the interval Button, active as ever, got in 
another week's cruise, but still without result. When 
finally they made Malaga, it was only to be driven to lee- 
w^ard of it and to be compelled to bear up for Gibraltar, and 
there Hawkins joined in the middle of February with the 
long expected victuallers and two royal pinnaces. Still 
Mansell found it impossible to carry out the design as he 
wished. Without more pinnaces or the Spanish oared 
contingent, of which nothing had been heard, it would 
not work, and he resolved to stay cruising where he was, 
between Gibraltar and Ceuta, till he heard again from 
England. For nearly a month he held the station with 

* Mansell to Aston. Aston Papers, ii. 152. 


squadrons on either side of the Straits while he himself 
visited Tetuan and endeavoured to wring some satisfac- 
tion from the authorities there ; but they were as obdu- 
rate as at Algiers, and two prizes were all that fell to his 
captains' luck. 

Meanwhile Aston had succeeded in demonstrating to 
the Government at Madrid the falsity of the charges 
against Man sell, and had been able to assure him that 
the promised squadron of galleys was to meet him at 
Alicante, as well as three brigantines or light galleys 
from Valencia. To Alicante therefore he hurried, staying 
on his way to victual at Malaga. It was not till the 
end of March that he reached his destination, and no 
galleys were there. It was hardly likely they would be. 
Spanish business was at a standstill, for Philip III. was 
just dead and Philip IV. reigned in his stead. Still, the 
three brigantines were at his service, and there was a 
fast polacca for §ale. The one he bought and the others 
he chartered, determined, it would seem, to carry out his 
design on Algiers with or without the galleys. It was 
at least a bold resolve. The port which had baffled the 
whole might of the great Emperor Charles V. had come 
to be let alone. Not even Osuna had dared to touch it, 
and by all Mediterranean authority it was regarded as a 
place impregnable to any kind of attack. English mer- 
chants who knew it were of the same opinion, but the 
navy men had looked into it for themselves, and took a 
hardier view. They had come to teach and not to learn, 
and they were convinced there was a way of at least 
drawing its teeth. It is easy to laugh at their insular 
confidence, but their resolution cannot be dismissed so 
lightly. Before judging them we should remember the 
ugly reputation which Algiers had enjoyed, reign after 
reign, as it sat secure and defiant in the very jaws of the 
Spanish sea power, and then perhaps we may give 
Man sell and his officers due credit, not only for their 
breezy contempt of precedent, but for the care and 
forethought with which they prepared to prove their 

The first weeks of April were spent in organising the 


fleet for the intended operation. The brigantines and 
the polacca were armed and manned so as to form with 
the boats of the galleons the oared squadron which the 
attempt demanded.^ The two prizes were prepared as 
fire-ships, and a quantity of incendiary projectiles, or 
* fireworks ' as they were then called, manufactured, and 
the men constantly exercised at the work that lay before 
them, ^yhen all was nearly complete, further letters 
arrived from England, by way of Malaga, saying that 
a new consignment of stores had reached that port, and 
probably authorising Mansell to proceed with his enter- 
prise. At any rate, a week later he sailed for Minorca to 
take in wood and water, and May 1 was holding away for 
Algiers. On the 20th they were before the port, and 
came to anchor in a way which, like everything else in 
this expedition, points to a growing spirit of order and 
discipline in the royal service at least equal to anything 
in the time of EHzabeth. Exact directions had been 
prepared for every state of the wind, and the evolution 
was executed with a quite modern exactitude, the King's 
ships bringing up first to mark the line, and the merchant- 
men taking up their stations astern of them in the 
squadron intervals they had left. The line was roughly 
parallel with the shore, and centred on the Mole, while 
six merchantmen were told off to ply between the rear- 
most ship and the shore to prevent any vessel either 
entering or leaving the harbour. 

The harbour itself appears to have been crowded with 
shipping that had taken refuge there from the operations 
of the various squadrons that were at work against them, 
and having thus completely closed the port so that none 
could escape, Mansell prepared for an immediate attack 
with his oared squadron. It was organised in two 
divisions: first the ' boats of execution,' in which were 

' At this time the Polacre or Polacca, Hke the brigantine, was an oared 
vessel, not manned by slaves, but rowed by the crew that worked the sails 
when the wind was fair. The Journal says that this one was of 120 tons, and 
in his orders to Penmgton to send a contingent to man it, Mansell calls it 
the Satia or Polakra {S. P. Dom. ccxx. 81). The Saettia was the smallest 
and swiftest form of such craft. See Drake and the Tudor Xanj, i. 11. 
The brigantines had nine oars a side. 


included the fire-ships, the brigantines, and the polacca ; 
and secondly seven * boats of rescue,' which were to 
support the ' boats of execution ' and protect them from an 
attack by galleys. But towards evening the wind, which 
had been fair all day, died away, and the attempt had to 
be deferred. The same thing happened the next night, 
but on the third day the fair wind held, and the ' boats of 
execution ' advanced. All went well, and the fire-ships 
were already off the head of the Mole when the wind 
chopped round and they could advance no further. But 
the assailants were not yet beaten. Under a heavy fire the 
oared craft made an attempt to tow the fire-ships forward. 
It was slow work ; the fire grew hotter and hotter, and 
the men began to hesitate. To tow in the fire-ships in 
face of such a fire was clearly impossible. For a moment 
there was thought of a retreat ; but Captain Hughes, who 
had command of one of the brigantines, shouted out to 
cast off the fire-ships and go in with the boats alone. 
The advance was immediately resumed, while Hawkins 
and Button in person went boldly in and brought off the 
derelict fire-ships. In dashing style the whole of the 
boats rowed for the fleet, shouting ' King James ! King 
James ! God bless King James ! ' Once alongside the 
pirate vessels they were masked from the enemy's fire, 
and they proceeded to bring their ' fireworks ' into play. 
With little loss they succeeded in getting the fleet well 
alight in seven different places, and then, still shouting 
triumphantly for King James, they drew off. But, as ill 
luck would have it, by this time the wind had again com- 
pletely died away. There was no breeze to nourish the 
flames, and the fire spread very slowly. As the boats 
retired the Algerines found heart to come out from their 
shelter, and poured in so heavy a fire that to return to 
the smouldering fleet was impossible. Worse still, it 
began to rain, and the end of it was that the pirates 
were able to extinguish the flames before much damage 
had been done. It was a bitter disappointment. The 
attempt had been well conceived, and carried out with 
boldness and precision. Ko blame seems to have attached 
to any one, nor is it easy to see what more could have been 


done. It was sheer ill luck, but the fact remained that 
the attempt had failed.^ 

Still Mansell did not despair. His fire-ships, by the 
gallantry of Hawkins and Button, were still intact, his 
boats were safe, his loss small, and his men still full of 
spirit. Though he drew off, it was not with the inten- 
tion of retiring, but apparently because the weather com- 
pelled him. Four days after the attempt he issued orders 
that the fleet was still to keep together in one body, that 
no wide chasing was to be permitted, and that he was 
going back to Algiers Koad, which was to be the rendez- 
vous so long as they were on the coast, for he intended to 
pursue the attempt he had begun. ^ 

During his absence four pirate vessels had managed to 
slip in, but two others had been destroyed and another cap- 
tured, and the Algerine galleys which tried to rescue her 
beaten off. Mansell's idea was to continue the blockade 
and watch for another opportunity of sending in his fire- 
ships. Unhappily the time was past. Some escaped 
prisoners informed him that the harbour had been securely 
boomed, and that, as for any hope of more prizes, pre- 
cautions had been taken all along the coast to warn 
approaching vessels of their danger. It was not till then 
that the admirals owned themselves beaten. Disease 
was daily sapping their strength ; it seemed useless to 
remain, and on June 1 they were heading back for 
Ahcante, where they hoped to hear of reinforcements 
from home.^ 

' The names of the oflicers who conducted the attcick are on record. The 
fire-ships were commanded by Captains Walsingham and Stokes, the brigan- 
tines by Hughes, Tall, and Pepwell, the seven ' boats of rescue ' by Captain 
Frampton (Lieutenant to Hawkins, ' Vanguard '), Captain Winker (Lieutenant 
to Palmer, 'Eeformation'), Captain Turner (Lieutenant to Mansell, 'Lion'), 
Captain Dodge (Lieutenant to Tanfield, ' Centurion '), Frewen (Lieutenant to 
Haughton, 'Neptune '), Button (nephew and Lieutenant to Su' Thomas Button, 
'Eainbow '), and Captain Boyes. 

2 Order to Penington, May 29, 1021, S. P. Dom. exxi. 5G. 

^ The main authority for the above is the Journal or log already referred 
to. A printed copy with sarcastic but not too well-informed notes in John 
Coke's hand is in S. P. Dom. ccxxii. 1013. His comments must be received 
with caution, for during all the last half of 1620 he was on leave attending 
to his private affairs in the country, and was apparently ignorant of the 


As things stood when they had left England, the idea 
had certainly been that the fleet was to be continually 
nourished with fresh ships and supplies in order that it 
might remain in the Mediterranean for at least three years, 
till the pirate power was broken, or so long as it seemed 
desirable to threaten Spain. During the spring of 1621 two 
fine galleons, the ' Victory ' and 'Dreadnought,' had actually 
been put in commission for the purpose. In May the mer- 
chants were called upon to maintain their ships on the 
station for six months longer, and at the end of the month 
the captains of the two King's ships received their orders 
to join. Then suddenly a change came over the situation. 
Gondomar had never ceased to protest and cajole until 
finally he had succeeded in winning over Buckingham 
as securely as he had gained the King. In this difficult 
task the Spaniard's persuasive personality was assisted 
by the folly of the Dutch. Their behaviour in the East 
Indies was growing daily more intolerable. In spite of 
treaties and promises, they continued impudently to assert 
their right to exclude English vessels from the most 
profitable trading areas, and to assert it with every kind 
of outrage. This was England's reward for having kept 

restrictions under which Mansell had sailed (see Coke MSS., Hist. MSS. 
Com. xn. i. 208-9). The author of the Journal is unknown, but internal 
evidence shows that he was m Hawkins's squadron aboard Arthur Main- 
waring's ship, tlie ' Constant Reformation,' until early in April that officer 
died of disease at Malaga. Palmer succeeded Mainwaring, and requested 
the author to remain with him, but he preferred to go to Sir Francis Tan- 
field in the ' Centurion,' a merchantman. Monson's criticism [Tracts, p. 256), 
from which later writers have usuaUy taken their cue, appears no less 
unfair and ill-informed than Coke's when compared with the Journal and 
the despatches. The principal ones are as follows : — Three from Mansell to 
Buckingham, dated January 13, June 9, and July 10, in Harleian MSS. 
1581 ; another in S.P. Foreign, Barbary States (dated July 17) ; two 
others to the Lords Commissioners (ibid.), one dated conjecturally 'Decem- 
ber 1620,' but probably about January 12, 1621, since in his despatch of 
January 13 Mansell says he had just finished it, and the other dated July 16 ; 
one to Calvert, Secretary of State in S.P. Spain dated March 15. Two others 
to Cranfield, dated January 22 and March 15, are among the De la Wa7-r 
Pojjcrs (Hist. MSS. Com. iv. 282 b). Three orders issued to Penington, 
giving further details of the movements of the fleet, are in S.P. Dam. 
cxx. 81 (April 12) and 112 (April 25) ; cxxi. 56 (May 29). The Aston Papers 
contain many documents besides those already quoted which throw much 
new light on the whole affair. 


the seas for them through the long years of their struggle 
for independence ; this wa« her reward for having supported 
the first halting steps of their sea power, and suffered it 
to grow up under the shelter of her own. England had 
stood loyally beside her, pouring out blood and treasure 
for the freedom of the high seas, and the first use the 
Dutch sought to make of their success was to force 
themselves into the exclusive position from which Spain 
had been dragged. There was an old superstition, well 
known to seamen, that if you save a man from drowning 
he will one day do you some fatal injury. The adage 
seemed coming true for England and Holland, and already 
the winds were whispering that before England could 
be a power in the Mediterranean she must establish 
her dominion of the North Sea. The struggle was to 
be long and bloody, and its first mutterings were in 
the air. 

Gondomar w^as not a man to miss his horn*. Bucking- 
ham's pride as Lord High Admiral was such that he was 
coming to regard every injury to a British ship as a 
personal affront. It was easy for the skilled Ambassador 
to foster his annoyance till he persuaded him that it was 
far better to use the royal ships in chastising the insolent 
Burghers than in keeping them out on a service wiiich 
his master could only view with distrust and dislike. 
The result was that when Mansell reached Alicante h3 
found neither 'Victory' nor 'Dreadnought.' In their 
place were orders to send home at once four of the 
King's ships. With the whole fleet he went round to 
Cadiz, whence, the second week in July, he despatched 
Hawkins and Button homewards. With them went the 
'Lion,' 'Kainbow,' ' Keformation ' and 'Antelope,' and 
some of the less seaworthy merchantmen, while with the 
rest Mansell remained where he was to await stores and 

Having thus reduced his force to a point at which 
they had nothing to fear from it the Spaniards became all 
politeness. Eager to see him spend his strength on the 
common enemy, they offered him everything he wanted, 
and a whole squadron of galleys if he would again attack 
I. I 


Algiers. Mansell was nothing loath. An officer was 
sent to Madrid to arrange the affair, orders were issued 
for a galley squadron to mobilise at Malaga in accord- 
ance with Mansell's desire, and so well was he supplied 
from the Cadiz stores that on the last day of July he 
w^as able to sail for Gibraltar to join hands with the 

Meanwhile relations with the Dutch were going from 
bad to worse. Their truce with Spain had come to an 
end ; the old war was raging again, and ever since its 
renewal they had been seeking to establish a commercial 
blockade of the Spanish Netherlands. International law on 
the subject w^as not so clear then as it is now, and James, 
hurt in his dignity as Lord of the Narrow Seas, would not 
admit their right to stay anything but enemy's goods 
and contraband of war. It was a disagreement for which 
there was no solution but force, and the result was that 
Hawkins and Button, on their way home, received orders 
to intercept the homeward-bound Dutch East India fleet 
by way of reprisal. Nor was this all. James's genius 
for putting himself in the wrong, and playing false cards, 
prompted him to send orders to Mansell to bring home 
the rest of his fleet to guard the Narrow Seas. Nothing 
could have been more ill-timed. In Vienna was Digby 
on his hopeless mission for the restoration of the Pala- 
tinate to the King's son-in-law, and for the removal 
of the Imperial ban. Having succeeded in getting a 
partial suspension of hostilities from the Emperor, he was 
about to proceed to Madrid in pursuance of the King's 
orders, and, feeling acutely the weakness of his hand, was 
imploring James to keep Mansell where he was. Even 
as the admiral's recall w^as being penned he was writing 
his urgent appeal: *I must earnestly,' he said, 'recom- 
mend the continuing abroad yet for some small time of 
Sir Kobert Mansell's fleet upon the coast of Spain, which, 
in case his Majesty should be ill-used, will prove the best 
argument he can use for the restitution of the Palatinate.' 
The King, it would seem, repented of his haste and made 

' Mansell to Aston, July 4 and 31 ; Aston to Buckingham, July 26 ; Sir 
John Fearne's instructions for Madrid ; Astoii Papers, ii. 


an effort to recall the false step he had taken. But even 
so it was only in a way that added degradation to his 
fatuity. Gondomar was consulted as to whether his 
master would take it ill if Mansell remained on the 
station. Seeing what was going on in Spain, the Ambas- 
sador had naturally no objection to offer. Indeed he 
wished for nothing better. His only aim had been to 
reduce Mansell to impotence, not to remove him alto- 
gether, and he had overshot the mark. He hastened 
therefore to explain that his master had no objection 
whatever to the operations against the pirates being 
continued. Indeed he begged that the two royal gal- 
leons and the ten merchantmen that had remained with 
Mansell might keep the seas. His master, he said, 
had already provided the admiral with fire-ships and 
combustibles to renew his attempt, and he was ready to 
see him furnished with provisions till they could be 
supplied from home. James replied that his reason for 
recalling Mansell was merely that his brother of Spain 
seemed jealous of the enterprise, and agreed to send orders 
for him to continue his operations.^ Whether or not 
this apparent complacency on James's part was to cover 
a resolution to support Digby at Madrid with a fresh 
naval demonstration, it was already too late to recover the 
lost ground. On September 15 the Order in Council 
was passed, calling on the merchants to provide their ships 
for a further period of service, and a week later Mansell, 
in ansvv^er to his original recall, appeared in the Downs 
with all his following. 

So ended the first attempt of a British Government to 
influence the European situation by the presence of a 
royal fleet in the Mediterranean. It is remembered now 
only for its failure at Algiers, a failure that a little luck 
would have turned to a memorable success, and perhaps 
reacted on the policy of Spain in a way that cannot now 
be measured. At the time the true significance of 
Mansell's fleet w^as recognised in all the cabinets con- 
cerned. The Spanish Ambassador indeed seemed to 

' Calvert to Cranfield, De la Warr Papers', Hist. MSS. Com. iy.S05a, 
September 12, 1G21 ; and Gardiner, iv. 227. 

I 2 


measure his success by bis power of controlling its action 
and its energy, and, little as it accomplisbed, the lesson 
was never forgotten, either at home or abroad ; nor from 
that time forth did the potentiality of English action in 
the Mediterranean ever cease to be a factor in European 



For the time Goiidomar's dexterity had removed the fear 
of English action in the Mediterranean from the counsels 
of the Hapsburg alliance, but from the day Mansell passed 
the Straits it was never lost eight of. For two years 
more James and his Government continued to be amused 
with the prospect of a Spanish marriage that was to give 
peace to Europe, and the British navy danced attend- 
ance ; but no sooner did the return of Prince Charles and 
Buckingham from Spain, empty-handed, make war in- 
evitable than the idea immediately recurred. Still it was 
not in England that the situation was first appreciated. 
Elizabethan traditions were still vigorous, and Mansell's 
venture had done little to break them. For the most part 
English naval strategists were still where Drake had left 
them, and the idea of war with Spain was still war as 
Drake had made it. It was abroad, where the Hapsburg 
alliance was pressing most severely, that the changed con- 
ditions were best understood. 

In the two years of James's inaction the alliance had 
made formidable strides. Heidelberg had fallen and the 
Palatinate was completely lost, and even in the far North 
the Scandinavian powers w^ere beginning to see their 
neighbour's wall was on fire. From Antwerp to Seville 
the Hapsburg territory was now a continuous whole. 
The Valtelline, which formed the connecting link by way 
of the Tyrol, had been seized, and though there had been 
a pretence of surrendering it to the custody of the Pope, 
it was still occupied by Spanish troops. There was thus 
a channel through which, by way of Genoa and Milan, 
the wealth of the Indies and all that it meant could freely 


pass to nourish the resources of the Empire and feed the 
war in Central Europe. If the Scandinavian powers 
began to take alarm, no less so did France, as the revived 
Hapsburg system embraced her in an ever tightening grip, 
and her fears were shared hj the other two Catholic 
opponents of Spain, Venice and Savoy. 

The success of the Hapsburg alliance had placed it at 
last in antagonism to all the rest of Europe. But it was 
not a solid opposition, and there was the weak point. It 
was broadly divided into two great camps, the Protestants 
to the North and the Catholics to the South, and each group 
had naturally a different view of the way in which the great 
alliance was to be fought. The Protestant group inclined 
to what might be called a frontal attack on the Empire, 
which, by mihtary operations from the northward, would 
force Austria to recoil within its old lines. The Catholic 
powers, on the contrary, saw the vital point in the centre, 
as was natural from their position, and they would have 
sought to break the alliance at the joint. The weak 
points in the Hapsburg chain were the Valtelline, as it lay 
threatened by all three powers of the Catholic group, and 
the Western Mediterranean, where at Genoa the link 
between Madrid and Milan lay open to naval attack. 
The eyes of France were fixed upon the Valtelline ; those 
of Savoy, as always, upon Genoa ; but in neither case 
exclusively, for an attack on either point would so 
materially assist the other that they formed practical^ 
one operation. Each group was naturally anxious to 
see the weight of England thrown upon its own 
chosen objective, and James was soon besieged with 
contradictory proposals for a common effort against the 
common foe. 

At first the line of action most favoured by the British 
Government was that of the Northern Protestants ; but 
this did not exclude the possibility of persuading Savoy 
and Venice to reopen their old harassing at the centre, 
and thither, as early as 1624, was sent Sir Isaac Wake 
*■ to encourage ' them to play their part. His first 
point was Turin, the Duke of Savoy's capital, and there 
the timid diplomat found himself handhng thunderbolts 


before he had time to turn round. in''o sooner did he 
arrive than the Duke began pressing on him the old 
Genoa scheme of Ealegh's time. * There is no need to 
encourage him,' groaned the overweighted envoy; 'his 
pulse doth beat so strong of itself.' In vain he tried to 
get on to Venice. The Duke would not let him go. He 
was entirely confident of success. He had charts, plans, 
and models of the city, and would not part with the 
Englishman till he had laid the complete scheme before 
him. It w^as some time before he could do this, for France 
was equally hot for her own design, and each state was 
trying to see how deeply she could get the other com- 
mitted before she showed her own hand. At last, in 
August, Wake was able to send home the complete 
proposal. Fifty thousand foot were to be raised and paid, 
half by England and half by Savoy ; three thousand cavalry 
were to be provided by Savoy, and, as their equivalent, 
England was to equip a fleet of twenty sail. James's name 
need not appear unless he liked. All he provided could 
be under his son-in-law's flag ; and as for Venice, he need 
have no anxiety, for she too would have to play her part. 
Genoa at this time was for all purposes of foreign policy 
a mere protectorate of Spain. Therefore, although an 
attack on her by Savoy would not be technically a breach 
w4th the Hapsburgs, it would be so in effect. It would 
be like thrusting a firebrand into the centre of the in- 
flammable heap, and would serve to set on fire the whole 
of Europe that w^as not already blazing. Venice must 
come in w^ith the rest ; and as for France, she was only 
waiting for Savoy to begin the dance. Such was the 
incendiary proposal which Wake had to send home, 
begging that, if it were accepted, some one more capable 
and with stronger nerves might be sent to take his 
place. ^ 

The scheme, however, was not immediately accepted. 
To gain time for reflection Wake was instructed to apply 
for further details, especially in regard to its financial 
aspects. The fact was that the British Government had 
another iron in the fire, which promised to burn deeper 
' S.P. Foreign, Savoy, 9, 1G24. 


than Savoy. No sooner had the failure of Charles and 
Buckingham at Madrid given the death-blow to the 
v^^eary Spanish marriage than negotiations were reopened 
for finding the Prince a bride in France. In November 
the preliminary treaty w^as signed, and by its terms 
England and France were allies for the subversion of the 
Hapsburgs. In the meantime France had formed a 
definite league with Savoy and Venice for wresting the 
Yaltelline from Spanish hands, and the first advantage 
she meant to draw from the proposed marriage was to 
add England to the party. This was Kichelieu's idea of 
meeting the threatened domination of the House of 
Austria — undoubtedly more sound and comprehensive 
than James's narrow aim at the recovery of the Palatinate 
and the restoration of the status quo in Germany. If the 
Hapsburg structure could be severed at the centre, the 
rest would easily follow. All that seemed necessary to 
insure success was to prevent Spain using the advantage 
of her command of the Western Mediterranean to paralyse 
the action of Savoy. The fitful maritime powder which 
France from time to time had painfully created on her 
Southern coast had sunk again to its lowest ebb. With- 
out the aid of the Northern sea powers it was clear Spain 
must retain her command and the freedom of her com- 
munication with Italy ; and so it came about that of all 
the far-reaching consequences that were to flow from the 
mating of the sparkling little French princess wdth 
James's solemn son, none were of deeper significance 
than the first. For it was nothing else than an invi- 
tation from France to England that she should assert 
her yet unmeasured influence on continental policy by 
naval operations in the Mediterranean. 

If ever a great minister's dreams are haunted with 
dim visions of what his policy may breed far beyond the 
hmits of his furthest sight, surely Kichelieu must have 
lain uneasy the night he let the proposal go. He might 
have seen that sea, which seemed made as a bridge for 
France to march to empire, disturbed with the passage 
of mighty fleets that were to change its nature — 
turning it to a fosse which barred her progress and 

1624 ENGLAND ARMS 121 

thrust her back to wither upoD the exhausted soil of her 

As it was, the proposal came humbly enough to give 
no hint of all it might mean. It was in the form of a 
suggestion from Marshal Lesdignieres, the officer in 
command of the French army which was assembling 
to support the Duke of Savoy in his projected attack 
on Genoa. The suggestion was addressed to the Nether- 
lands as well as England, and was purely naval in 
character. England was to incur no expense and no 
responsibility. All that was asked was that the King 
of France should be allowed to hire twenty ships of war 
in each country. They were to sail under the French 
flag, and to be in all respects a French force. The 
Dutch at once consented. Buckincrham, whose imao^i- 
native mind was filled with the most grandiose ideas for 
the coming war, easily persuaded James to do the same. 
It w-as therefore understood that the French marshal, in 
bis forthcoming filibustering attack on Genoa, was to 
have twenty English men-of-war at his disposal. 

This was in the winter of 1624. In spite of the 
despairing efforts of Spain to avert the threatened con- 
flagration, every one believed it would break out in the 
ensuing spring. In England a great fleet was to be 
mobilised for immediate action, but at present no one 
knew what its destination would be. Following Eliza- 
bethan precedent, the direction of all operations for the 
recovery of the Palatinate had been placed in the hands 
of a supreme Council of War. It numbered among its 
members the best of the later Elizabethans : St. John, 
Lord Deputy of Ireland ; George Carew, who had saved 
Munster from Spain in 1600 ; Fulke Greville, Sidney's 
old companion, together with the most accomplished and 
experienced soldiers of the new^ school that had grown up 
in the Low Countries under the Fighting Veres. The 
naval members were Mansell and Button, the best that 
were to be had since Eichard Hawkins was dead. Their 
influence upon England's attitude was something more 
than consultative, for in effect they were trustees of the 
funds w^hich the Commons had voted for the war. 


In a bold effort to grasp a part of the executive power, 
which had always been the King's, the House had sought 
to lay down the broad lines on which the war was to be 
conducted. This was the famous resolution of ' the Four 
Points.' James, fixed to his narrow view of recovering 
the Palatinate, was obstinately bent on confining the war 
to military operations in Germany, and on offending 
Spain as little as possible. Parliament, believing Spain 
was still the all-pow^erful instrument of all the trouble, 
and instinctively feeling the strength of England was 
on the sea, w^as as earnestly opposed to distant military 
adventures and as obstinately bent on reviving the old 
war which James had so prematurely closed. The four 
points for which they stipulated were the setting in 
order of the coast defences, making provision for the 
security of Ireland, assisting the Dutch with troops, and 
mobilising the navy. In short, they were set upon a 
war conducted exactly on the old Elizabethan lines — that 
is, in effect, a defensive war tempered by remunerative 
operations against Spanish trade and colonies. Of the 
changed situation which had been brought about by the 
increased power of the Empire and her chief allies they 
were in apparent ignorance. The King of course would 
not accept the position they arrogated. He told lliem 
it was enough that the money they voted could not be 
touched without the consent of the Treasurers whom they 
were to appoint ; but as for the conduct of the war, that 
must depend on the advice of the Council of War. 
* Whether,' said he, ' I shall send twent}^ thousand or 
ten thousand, whether by land or sea, east or west, by 
diversion or otherwise, by invasion upon the Bavarian 
or the Emperor, you must leave that to the King.' And 
so indeed it was left, the arrangement being that the 
Parliamentary Treasurers were to issue money on the 
warrant of the Council of War, and not otherw^ise. 

The French proposal, therefore, was outside the view 
of either party, and yet it fell in with both. For James 
it would be a valuable diversion in favour of the land 
operations for the recovery of the Palatinate ; for the 
popular view it was naval, productive, and valuable as 


a preoccupation for the Spanish fleet. For the King it 
had the special recommendation of enabhng him in some 
smaU degree to do his duty to his son-in-law without 
openly breaking with Spain. No step could be more 
characteristic, and it was practically the last he took. 
It was the end of March 1625, and already as the sound 
of war grew loud in his ears he lay upon his death-bed 
tormented with the din he could not hush. The southern 
counties were swarming with unruly recruits who were 
to serve abroad under Count Mansfeldt. The ports were 
crowded with clamouring skippers whose vessels had 
been requisitioned as transports. Twelve ships of the 
royal navy were being equipped for their escort and 
some further great adventure, and the squadron that was 
to pass into the French service was being pushed on. 
And so at last, amid the noise and disturbance of vast 
preparations for the war, which he had disgraced himself 
to prevent, the fever-stricken King passed away. 

Every scheme to which he had set his hand most 
devoutly had failed — everything, perhaps, except the re- 
generation of the navy. The five years which the Com- 
mission had given itself to do the work were past, and 
the programme had been carried out to the letter. In 
spite of the extraordinary calls that had been made upon 
them by Mansell's expedition and Charles's escapade to 
Spain, the fleet had been kept in good order ; ten new ships 
had been added to it, and the expense reduced by about 
a half. However barren of purpose James's reign may 
appear, this must never be forgotten. The navy had 
been placed on a businesslike footing, and had been 
conflrmed as the pride and mainstay of the country. 
Of his position as Lord of the Narrow Seas James was 
at least as proud as of his pose as head of the reformed 
religion. His interest in the navy had never flagged. 
He sat in person to decide disputes on the most technical 
questions ; he never missed a launch ; he made his 
second son Lord High Admiral, and only displaced him 
when he became Prince of "Wales to make room for his 
chosen favourite. Less consciously, but still as the direct 
result of his trust in the navy, he inaugurated a new 


field for its action. Feebly as the new policy had been 
started, it was a precedent that had been set. The door 
was opened never to be entirely shut. In spite of failure 
and disappointment, one of the last acts of his well- 
meaning reign had been to push his sea power forward 
on its new career, and on his troubled death-bed he had 
once more stretched out his shaking hand in answer to 
the calling^ of the Mediterranean. 



No king perhaps ever succeeded quietly to a throne with 
such a sea of troubles boiling round him as did Charles, 
and the first to scald him was the question of the squadron 
with which England was to make herself felt in the 

When the idea was first mooted, there can be no 
doubt that there was a real intention to use the force 
for breaking into the centre of the Hapsburg position 
through Genoa. But, before the agreement had been 
signed, France had had forced upon her a wholly different 
use for it. In January 1625 the Duke of Soubise, the 
great Huguenot chief, exasperated with the King's failure 
to carry out the terms of the late pacification, had 
suddenly thrown himself upon Blavet, the new head- 
quarters of the French navy, and had carried off into 
Kochelle all the six royal vessels he found there. By 
April the Huguenots were once more in open rebellion ; 
and all hope of reducing Kochelle to obedience was gone un- 
less a fleet could be procured. There could be no doubt, 
therefore, how Louis would use the borrowed ships if 
he got them. Still, for the Dutch it was too late to draw 
back. In the throes of their new contest with Spain, 
which so far had not gone too well with them, they dared 
not offend France, and Louis had the prospects of a fresh 
pacification with his Protestant rebels to make their 
consent easy. So the Dutch contingent sailed, and at 
its head was Haultain, Vice-Admiral of Zeeland. 

For England, in the toils of her new alliance with the 
French Crown, there was scarcely less difficulty ; and when, 
on the eve of the old King's death, Buckingham agreed 


to lend the * Vanguard ' of the royal navy and seven 
merchantmen, he must have known their destination. If 
at the time his airy assurance and indifference to public 
opinion had seen no difficulties in the path, they began 
quickly to spring into view. In April Sir John Penington, 
w^ho was to command, was ready for sea ; but Sir Ferdi- 
nand© Gorges, his vice-admiral, could not be got to join. 
He had been Elizabeth's Governor of Plymouth, and was 
a personification of all the Protestantism militant of her 
reign. It was not till the admirals had been assured that 
they would not have to fight Huguenots that they could 
be got to take the squadron across to Dieppe. Still, both 
officers and men were far from easy, and, as the day 
approached for Parliament to meet, Buckingham himself 
became nervous. He tried to gain time by informing 
the admiral he was not to give up the squadron till he. 
had escorted the new Queen to England. On June 9 
Penington at last sailed ; but no sooner was he in contact 
with French conversation than his eyes were opened. 
Till he had further orders he refused to have any dealings 
with the French officers who were commissioned to take 
over the ships, and, finally winding a design to seize his 
squadron, he quietly put to sea and returned to the Enghsh 

Meanwhile Parhament had met and had received the 
statement of the Government. There had been a 
suggestion of further subsidies, but it had fallen flat, and 
there was clearly trouble ahead. Before a new money 
grant could be considered, there were inquiries to be made. 
The war policy, which the Commons had so clearly defined 
in the resolution of the Four Points, had practically been 
set at nought. Their Council of War had been induced 
to grant subsidies ajid raise an army for operations in 
Germany, which was what they particularly intended to 
forbid. The naval forces had been mobilised, but not in 
the way they had plainly indicated. They had intended 
the mobilisation as a precautionary measure in view of 
the pow^erful fleet that had then been assembling in Spain ; 
but it was now known that that fleet had sailed to dis- 
possess the Dutch from the lodgment they had made in 


Brazil, and all fear of an invasion was at an end. Still 
an enormous fleet was being prepared clearly for some 
offensive operations, for ten thousand troops were being 
pressed, and transports taken up wholesale. Who had 
sanctioned it ? What was the enemy ? No war had 
been declared, and part at least of the naval forces were 
going to assist a Catholic king who was at war with his 
Protestant subjects. Vast sums had been spent for the 
recovery of the Palatinate, and less than no good done. 
The army that had been raised for Mansfeldt had rotted 
away from neglect and disease, and, in spite of the crowd 
of ships that had been so long in commission, the Salee 
pirates were swarming in the Narrow Seas and insulting 
the very coasts. 

It was clear something must be done to mend matters. 
The plague was raging in London, and the occasion was 
seized to adjourn Parliament to meet at Oxford on August 1. 
Still it was by no means easy to know what to do in the 
meantime with Penington. He had to be ordered back 
to Dieppe, and yet could not be allowed to give up his 
ships. The only solution that occurred to the Govern- 
ment was to instruct him to get his men to mutiny. This 
he did with no little success as soon as he reached Dieppe, 
and on July 25 his crew carried their officers back again 
to England. Meanwhile, however, peace had been signed 
with Eochelle. Lesdignieres had rapidly driven the 
Spanish garrisons from the Valtelline, and with his 
colleague of Savoy had overrun the Genoese territory 
almost to the gates of the capital. But there he was 
checked. He knew it w^as madness to attempt the city 
itself without support from the sea, and with all the weight 
of his name he had been pressing for an accommodation 
with the Huguenots in order that the borrowed fleet might 
still be placed at his disposal. Now, therefore, that peace 
was made, Kichelieu w^as able to assure the English 
Government that their ships would certainly be used in 
the Mediterranean according to the original plan, and 
Penington received final orders to deUver them up. The 
transfer actually took place on August 3, but the crews 
absolutely refused to serve, and the French got only the 


bare ships, nor indeed all of them, for Sir Ferdinando 
Gorges, staunch to his faith, was not to be persuaded, and 
deserted ship and all. 

Thus the most pressing cause of offence was removed ; 
but no sooner had Parliament reassembled than it was 
clear the way was barely smoothed. The great expedi- 
tion with its hundred sail and ten thousand troops had 
still to be explained. It had certainly been Buckingham's 
intention that it should sail and win him glory before Par- 
liament could meet, and to this end the Houses had been 
twice prorogued. He intended to take the command him- 
self, under a commission from the Prince Palatine, so as 
to avoid as long as possible a formal rupture of the peace 
between England and Spain. The original idea had been 
apparently something in Drake's manner on the Spanish 
coast. Then he had tried t'o persuade the Prince of 
Orange into a joint attack on the Spanish Netherlands. 

The main inducement to the latter line of action 
was the growing menace of Dunkirk. During the 
peace, Spain had been making serious efforts to in- 
crease her sea power, and among other means had 
instituted a system of ahnirantazgos, whereby chartered 
trading companies in return for their privileges were 
called upon to maintain a war-fleet. One of these, to 
the number of twenty-four sail, was now established at 
Dunkirk, where naval architecture and seamanship had 
reached a point unsurpassed in Europe.' The Dutch 
were blockading it with fair success, but, so long as the 
Dunkirk squadron existed, the command of the Narrow 
Seas was not secure, The destruction of the port was in 
fact an operation of the first importance. Sound strategy 
demanded it as a necessary preliminary to the effective 
conduct of the war on whatever lines it was eventually 
to be waged, and so keen was Buckingham on the new 
project that he actually went over to Paris to induce 
Louis to co-operate. The mission was a complete failure. 
So far from succeeding in dragging France into a war 
with Spain, he entirely alienated the French King by 
making love to his wife. So, before Parliament met, the 

* Duro, iv. 11. 


new project had been abandoned and he had gone back 
to the vague intentions of a campaign to the southward.^ 
It was to provide against inexperienced levity of this 
kind that Parhament had sought to tie the all-powerful 
Lord Admiral's hands with a board of experts ; and no 
sooner did the question of supply come up again than it 
was roundly suggested that the expedition had never been 
sanctioned or even considered by the Council of War. 
The only member of it sitting in the House was Sir 
Kobert Mansell. It was a direct challenge to him to 
speak, but he held his peace while the debate waxed 
hotter and hotter. At length he could contain himself no 
longer. It was to Buckingham he owed his fall from 
power, and he rose to deal his supplanter a blow from 
which he never really recovered. There had, he said, 
been some meetings of the Council, but he had not been 
present at any since February last. At that time the 
question of levying an army to accompany the fleet had 
been raised, and he had refused to vote upon it, because 
Sir John Coke, a minister and partisan of Buckingham's, 
was present, and he was not a member of the Council. 
He appears, however, to have intimated that he regarded 
the force proposed to be too small to effect anything, 
and a useless expense. He had an alternative project of 
his own which he was certain would do more for the 
Palatinate than anything that could be hoped from the 
plan before them. Conway, however, who, though also a 
Secretary of State, was on the Council of War, had cut 
him short by saying that the question before the Council 
had been merely what arms they were to sanction for 
the force. Whether it was to be raised or not was not 
for them to discuss, and thereupon Mansell appears to 
have retired. This was probably just the kind of thing 
the House had suspected, and so deep was the sensation 
made by Mansell's speech that they immediately adjourned 
the debate. On the morrow, to make matters worse, 
there came up lamentable reports of the havoc the Salee 
pirates and Dunkirkers had been committing on British 

' Gardiner, v. 325 et seq. 'Buckingham's Instructions,' May 1625, 
Coke MSS. p. 201. 

I. K 


subjects. The navy ships had done next to nothing, and 
Mansell protested it was their orders that were at fault, 
and again the Council of War had not been consulted. 
Everywhere upon the high seas and even in their own 
waters Englishmen had been treated with contempt, and 
not a single insult had been resented. Fuel was added to 
the fire till it blazed out in Sir Francis Seymour's cry, 
* Let us lay the fault where it is. The Duke of Bucking- 
ham is trusted. It must needs be him or his agents.' 

The crisis was fast growing in intensity, and the next 
day the Solicitor-General w^as put up to answer Mansell's 
accusation. But though he made it appear that the only 
reason why Mansell had not been further consulted was 
that he had absented himself from the sittings out of 
pique, he could not show the design in hand had ever 
been sanctioned by the Council of War. Mansell's reply 
was that of a man broken and crushed by a grievance. 
He was obliged to admit he had a private quarrel with the 
Duke ; he whined querulously of his ancestors, of their 
devotion to the Crown, and his own ; he cried for an 
inquiry into his conduct at Algiers ; he vowed that he 
w^ould make it good with his life that Buckingham's 
expedition, manned and victualled as it was, was doomed 
to failure ; and wound up protesting he neither desired the 
good will nor feared the hatred of the great Duke, but, 
sailor-like, only wished to do his duty. The impression he 
made was not good. Yet it was none the less clear that 
the Government had refused to listen to the scheme of the 
Vice-Admiral of England, who was also the only man on 
the Council of War with any long naval experience ; that 
they had pursued a plan which he pronounced ridiculous ; 
that they had concealed from him the design which w^as 
finally adopted ; and that, in answer to his protest, he had 
been told the plan of campaign lay with Buckingham, 
not with the board of experts to whom Parliament had 
specially confided the direction of the w^ar. If Mansell's 
position had been shaken, that of the King and Bucking- 
ham was made no firmer, and the broken admiral sat 
down among wiiispers that Charles had already made 
out a commission for a dissolution. It was true enough. 


Buckmgham could face no niore, and, before anything could 
be done, Charles's first Parliament had ceased to exist. • 

So without money, counsel, or settled purpose the ex- 
pedition went forward. September came, and the fleet still 
lay huddled in Plymouth, unable to sail. The season 
had passed, according to all Elizabethan precedent, for 
such an expedition : the soldiers were dying in hundreds 
of the plague, and yet Buckingham clung obstinately to 
his idea. What it was nobody knew, if indeed he knew 
clearly himself. The West Indies, the Azores, the 
Canaries, the ports of the Spanish Atlantic seaboard — all 
were discussed and their chances reckoned. Some even 
still believed that something in the Mediterranean was the 
object. The best naval opinion knew that an attack 
upon Genoa from the sea was impracticable unless an 
adequate base for the fleet could be first established in the 
vicinity. Such a base either Corsica or Sardinia would 
furnish, and the occupation of either of those islands was 
well wathin the capacity of the expedition."^ Yet there 
can be no doubt that such an objective had never been 
seriously contemplated, and the fact that it was mentioned 
is therefore the more interesting as showing how small 
w^as the importance as yet attached to the strategical 
possibilities of the Mediterranean by English experts. 
It is of course possible that this or something like it was 
Mansell's alternative proposal, but of this w^e know 
nothing. Monson, who by this time had developed into a 
very advanced theorist, certainly rejected the notion. But 
it must be said for him that he rejected it in favour of a 
proposal still more sound. 

The eyes of the old Elizabethan admiral were 
fixed on the Spanish navy, and he saw it at the mercy 
of the English fleet. During the recent reorganisa- 
tion of the Spanish maritime forces, they had been 
greatly strengthened, and, at least on paper, Spain had 
never been so powerful at sea. Besides the three local 
squadrons of the North, provided similarly to those of our 
own Cinque Ports by the provinces of Guipuscoa, Biscay, 

' Gardiner, Debates in the House of Commons, 1625, C.S. 1873, pp. 115, 
123, 147, 161. ■- Monson, Tracts, p. 262. 

K 2 


and Galicia, three royal squadrons were established — 
one for the Crown of Castile of forty-six sail, another for 
Portugal of ten sail, and the third for Flanders of twenty 
sail. From these a permanent fleet of twenty sail was 
established for the Straits, and the rest formed the Ocean 
Guard. Besides these there was also the formidable 
KeapoHtan squadron, which was composed of Osuna's 
old fleet under his Admiral Eibera. The system was so 
far complete that when, in May 1624, the Dutch East 
India Company seized San Salvador in Brazil, a fleet of 
fifty-two sai] with twelve thousand men had been sent to 
recover it before the year was out. Still it was not till the 
end of April 1625 that the invading force, which consisted 
of Dutch, English, and Germans, was forced to capitulate, 
and the victorious fleet, exhausted or unseaworthy with 
its prolonged efl'ort, wag coming home. This was known 
in England during the summer, and in Monson's eyes the 
obvious thing to do was to dismiss the troops and trans- 
ports, as Essex had done in 1597, and despatch a purely 
naval force to surprise and crush the homeward bound 
Spanish fleet at the Azores. Such a blow would have 
been the most severe that Spain could receive. Theoreti- 
cally Monson's idea was obviously right, but there were 
reasons why, even if it had been adopted, success was far 
from assured. 

Strange as it may seem, although the fleet at Ply- 
mouth was one of the most powerful that had ever been 
fitted out for such a service in England, it had not a 
single admiral on its staff. Mansell and Button were both 
more or less in disgrace, Sir Kichard Hawkins was dead, 
Monson was not even consulted, while Palmer and 
Penington were employed in the Narrow Seas. Bucking- 
ham himself was to command, with Sir Edward Cecil, a 
Low Country soldier, for his Marshal or chief of the staff. 
His vice-admiral was the Earl of Essex, his rear-admiral 
the Earl of Denbigh, neither of whom had ever held a 
command at sea, .ind the flag officers of the three squad- 
rons were mostly noblemen of as little experience. The 
captain of Buckingham's ship, an officer who in those 
days corresponded in some degree to a modern captain of 


the fleet, was Thomas Love. Beyond the fact that he had 
been on the Council of War and had commanded a King's 
ship in Mansell's expedition, nothing is known of his 
previous service ; and yet this man was rehed on through- 
out as the chief naval adviser. The only other seamen 
on the Council of War of the expedition were Argall and 
Chudleigh, both of whom had commanded merchantmen 
against Algiers, and possibly Sir John Watts, who appears 
to have been grandson of the great London privateer 
owner of Elizabeth's time. Monson, who, in spite of 
the contempt with which his long experience had been 
treated, took the keenest interest in the expedition, could 
not contain his disgust, and laid the failure of the 
campaign mainly to the * want of expert men to advise 
what had been practised in fleets. For every man,' said 
he, * that can manage a small bark is not capable to direct 
a fleet. You should not have relied on sailors put into the 
habit of gentlemen and made knights before they knew 
what belonged to gentihty, nor were ever expert but in 
poor petty barks.' ^ With a staff so constituted it is 
scarcely possible that any naval enterprise could have 
been successful, in spite of the magnificent chance that 
offered of destroying the flower of the new Spanish navy 
at a blow. 

But worse was still to come. Before the expedition 
could sail, it was known that the peace with the 
Huguenots had been broken. The English ships were to 
be used to re.luce Rochelle, and France had clearly 
intimated her intention of not risking war with Spain. 
If there had ever been any idea of acting in concert with 
the French in the Mediterranean, this put an end to it, 
and Buckingham was thrown back on the policy of a 
frontal attack by a great Protestant alliance. In Sep- 
tember Dutch plenipotentiaries arrived at Plymouth to 
negotiate a fresh offensive and defensive treaty, and 
Buckingham, undeterred by his monstrous diplomatic 
failures, decided to throw up the command of the fleet 
and go over to the Hague to form a grand Protestant 
League. Thus the one man whose personal ascendency 

» Tracts, p. 273. 


and breezy confidence might have given the expedition 
some energy and cohesion was removed, and the command 
fell to Sir Edward Cecil, a mere infantry colonel of no ex- 
ceptional ability and little if any experience of an indepen- 
dent command. All that could be done to supply his lack 
of influence and knowledge was to create him Viscount 
Wimbledon and surround him with a Council of War, 
which, besides the noblemen and the few sea captains al- 
ready mentioned, consisted mainly of colonels like himself. 
There is no doubt that, owiug to the failure of the 
Tudor admirals to replace the tactical system they had 
destro^^ed with anythmg really definite and comprehen- 
sive, the influence of profos'sional soldiers versed in the 
fundamental principles of the art of war was what the 
navy most required. Under the great soldiers of the 
coming age, Cromwell, William III., and Marlborough, 
the navy, as we shall see, learnt much ; but it was 
because they and the men of their choice went about 
their w^ork in the right way, because they could dis- 
tinguish technical detail from basic essentials, and knew 
where their own science began and that of the seamen 
ended. But with Cecil it was not so. Seeing only the 
chaos which the Elizabethans had left behind them, he 
tried with the best intentions in the world to force 
on the seamen a tactical system which was quite 
regardless of the limitations of their art. To dwell on its 
precise nature is needless. For our purpose we need 
only mark it, like so much else in Stuart times, as an 
effort to do the right thing in the wrong way. An official 
comment upon it fairly sums it up. 'It was observed,' 
the Eeport runs, ' that it intended to enjoin our fleet to 
advance and fight at sea much after the manner of an 
army at land, assigning every ship to a particular division, 
rank, file, and station, which order and regularity was 
not only improbable but almost impossible to be observed 
by so great a fleet in so uncertain a place as the sea.' 
Owing to the fact that no hostile fleet was met with, no 
attempt was made to put it in practice, and it survives for 
us only as a vivid glimpse of the condition of tactical 
opinion when, during the time of transition to the single 


line-ahead, it was hovering between squadronal lines and 
what we should now call a group-formation.' 

It is from strategical and not from the tactical point of 
view that Lord Wimbledon's expedition retains its living 
interest. Here the soldiers were thoroughly at home, and 
in the domain that was really theirs they struck a note 
which, though barely audible at first, had the true ring 
and is still sounding. 

Cecil, it would appear, left the Channel with no very 
definite idea of what his objective was to be. On 
October 20, having reached the neighbourhood of St. 
Vincent, he thought well to call a council to settle w^hat 
they were going to do. So soon as it had assembled he 
informed his officers that his general instructions were : 
first, to destroy the King of Spain's shipping ; secondly, 
to possess some place of importance in his country ; and, 
thirdly, as ' the principal point,' to intercept the arrival 
of the Plate fleet. The question therefore was what 
place they should seize. He further told them that at a 
council of war held before the King at Plymouth, San 
Lucar, the port of Seville, had been the objective most 
favoured, but the final decision had been left to them on 
the spot. Then it was that the debate arose in which, so 
far as is known, was made the first suggestion of an 
exploit destined eventually to lay the foundation of 
British power in the Mediterranean. A simple officer in 
an inglorious expedition, the man who made it has long 
been forgotten. His very name barely escaped oblivion, 
and his identity has survived by the merest accident. Yet 
surely he deserves a shrine in naval annals, and for- 
tunately it is still possible to lift him from his obscurity, 
and to treasure every shred of his memory that can be 

When we see what he was, it is to be again struck 
with how little the men of the English navy understood 
whither their destiny was to lead them. We see that 
destiny germinating, as it were, by its own vitality out of 
that obscure mutiny which sent Ward to teach the 
Barbary pirates the English art, and so forced the Duke 

' See Appendix, * Origin of the Line of Battle.' 


of Osuna to try with a new sea power to dominate 
the Mediterranean from Sicily and Naples. It will be 
remembered that when the great Spanish Viceroy was 
pressing Venice with his new fleet and Venice was crying 
to England for help, the focus of her war with the Haps- 
burgs was at Gradisca, which was closely besieged by 
a Venetian army. It was Ferdinand's frontier fortress 
which commanded the coast road round the head of the 
Adriatic, and so gave access into his ducal dominions 
about Trieste, where alone he touched the sea. On 
its fate therefore the war seemed to turn. In com- 
mand of the sea, the Venetians were free to nourish 
their besieging army by an easy and rapid line of com- 
munication, and so long as this condition existed its 
fate was recognised to be only a matter of time. 
Every one saw that all depended on the dominion of 
the Adriatic. Hence Osuna's eagerness to control it, and 
Ferdinand's encouragement of the lUyrian pirates and 
the lavish expenditure of Venice in English and Dutch 
ports. Every one engaged in the defence of the place was 
feeling acutely the silent pressure of the sea, and among 
them was a certain Scottish soldier of fortune in the 
Austrian service, one Captain Henry Bruce. 

Like most others of his type he had begun his career 
in the Low Country wars, and, after serving the Dutch 
with distinction, had passed on at the conclusion of the war 
into the service of the Emperor with the reputation of 
an accomplished officer with a strongly scientific turn of 
mind.^ After the peace of Madrid put an end to the 
Venetian war he contmued to serve his ducal master, 
and when Ferdinand became Emperor he followed him 
to Vienna. There his services were rewarded with the 
governorship of Nikolburg on the Moravian frontier, 
where, at the outbreak of the Bohemian war, he allowed 

^ He was serving the Dutch as early as 1604, when he got into trouble 
by killing in a duel a certain Captain Hamilton, Captain-Lieutenant of 
Buccleuch's regiment. In 1608 he submitted to the States certain military 
inventions, which were accepted and for which he was well paid. On 
August 10, 1608, he received a very flattering recommendation from the 
Dutch Government to the Margrave of Anspach. See Ferguson's Scots 
Brigade in HoUancl {Scottish Hist. Soc), vol. i 


himself to be surprised and was obliged to capitulate. 
He now left the Emperor's service, as some said, in 
disgrace ; but, according to his own story, he retired with 
his master's good leave because he could not consent 
to bear arms against his own king's son-in-law. On his 
way back to Scotland he reported himself at the Hague to 
the British Ambassador, Sir Dudley Carleton. Carl-eton 
had his suspicions. The man, he wrote home, though of 
good place and reputation in the Emperor's wars, was a 
hot papist and perhaps a Jesuit agent. In any case he was 
a person of consideration, and it was worth while keeping 
an eye on him. This was in May 1G'20, when the war 
fever in England was running high and the drums were 
beating for the Prince Palatine's recruits under the 
Spanish Ambassador's window. In hope of a command, 
probably, Bruce proceeded direct to England. Whether 
or not he found employment at that time is uncertain, 
but in 1621 he is described as ' the servitor of the Prince 
his Highness ' ; and at any rate by 1625 he had so far esta- 
blished his reputation as to be given the command of the 
tenth or junior regiment in Buckingham's expeditionary 
force, wdiich entitled him to a place in the Council of ^Yar, 
and won him a knighthood w^ith the rest.^ 

It was this man who made the memorable proposal. 
The masters of the fleet had declared in council that San 
Lucar was impossible. It was a barred harbour, and they 
refused to be responsible for taking in the King's ships 
without pilots. The old game of an attack on Cadiz was 
then put forward, whereupon Sir Henry Bruce got up and 
boldly proposed Gibraltar. The idea was entirely new 
and seems to have come upon the greater number of 
officers present as a surprise. But Bruce proceeded to 
point out how admirably the place fitted their . strength 
and their objects. The road was a very strong one for 
the fleet to ride in, the shore aftbrded a good landing for 
troops, and, being small, the town could be easily garrisoned 
and victualled, and so permanently held if once taken. 
As for its advantages, though Gibraltar was poor compared 
with Cadiz or San Lucar, yet as a naval station it was un- 
' Carlcton's Letters, pp. 450, 4G0. Ferguson, op. cit. 


rivalled. The possession of it would place the whole 
Levant trade at their command and serve as a point of 
departure for future operations within the Straits. Far 
better, he urged, to look to the moral effect and future 
benefits than to be tempted by present pillage. 

The reception that Bruce's speech met with is a little 
doubtful. Afterwards, when Essex and nine of the other 
colonels formulated an indictment against Cecil for his 
mismanagement of the campaign, one of their principal 
charges was that he had not allowed Bruce's suggestion to 
be properly discussed. They accused him of having shghted 
both the proposal and its proposer by abruptly putting the 
question whether it was to be Cadiz or Gibraltar, adding 
that Gibraltar was Sir Henry Bruce's suggestion and that 
he seemed to stand alone. This Cecil characterised as a 
slander, saying that he had known Bruce longer in the 
wars than any other colonel, and that he was a gentle- 
man he most particularly honoured. Yet the contra- 
dictory reasons which he gave for not having treated the 
proposal more seriously leave us with an impression that 
it was to his lack of understanding and dread of re- 
sponsibility that the summary rejection of the idea was 
due. In one place he pleaded that Gibraltar was too 
strong and not adapted to the objects of the expedition ; 
in another that he did not know it was Bruce's proposal, 
but thought it came from the master of his ship ; and in 
a third that he had no authority to go anywhere but to 
Cadiz or San Lucar. In short his whole defence is that 
of a man who knew he had made a grave mistake and 
thrown away the only chance he had had of a triumphant 

The opportunity that was missed is the more to be 
regretted since we know the place was in no condition to 
offer a serious resistance. In response to the changed 
situation a deep-water harbour had recently been made 
by the construction of what was so long famous as the 
' New Mole ' ; so that it could now receive broadside ships 
as well as galleys ; but the works were barely finished and 

1 The Voyage to Cadiz {Camden Society), p. 33. Tiuo Original Journals 
of Sir Richard Grenville, London, 1724, pp. 5, 33. 


little or nothing had been done to defend them. The 
Spaniards themselves were in grave apprehension for the 
place, and in the previous winter the King in person had 
visited it and ordered its fortifications to be modernised. 
The conversion was actually in progress, and it was owing 
to a similar state of things at Cadiz in 1596 that Essex 
had taken the town so easily. Gibraltar would certainly 
have been a still lighter task.' 

Bruce's proposition being suppressed, the Council 
decided to attack St. Mary Port, in Cadiz Bay ; but this 
proved as impracticable as San Lucar. It was then de- 
cided to land on the Cadiz island and seize Fort Puntal, 
which guarded the passage into the inner harbour. Here 
lay a portion of the fleet that had returned from Brazil, 
and some other vessels, and these they proposed to 
capture or destroy. But so much time had already been 
wasted in councils that, long before an attack could be 
delivered, the Spanish ships had made themselves abso- 
lutely secure. The whole design was a poor imitation of 
what Howard and Essex had attempted in 1596. Every 
mistake they had then committed was repeated and 
exaggerated, there was no brilliant genius to repair 
errors, and in a week the fleet put to sea again, having 
suffered no little loss and accomplished nothing. 

Still, they had gathered intelligence which might have 
directed them to repairing their fortunes. In Malaga, 
within the Straits, they learned there was lying the bulk 
of the Brazil fleet, stricken with disease, wholly unfit for 
sea and thoroughly demoralised. It was at the mercy of 
a bold attack, and some of the council of war were in 
favour of immediately undertaking its destruction. But 
Cecil could not bring himself to depart from his instruc- 
tions or even to interpret them broadly. He felt bound 
to attempt the capture of the Plate fleet. To this end 
he decided to cruise off Cape St. Vincent, nor could the 
advocates of action in the Mediterranean wring any better 

* Lopez de Ayala, Hist, of Gibraltar (Trans. James Bell), p. 130. See 
also the original report on the progress of the work at the end of 1G26 by 
Luif', Bravo, Add. MSS. 15152 ; and Aston's report, March 25, 1G22, in his 
' Letter Book,' Add. MSS. 36449. 


comfort from him than a rendezvous near Malaga if they 
were forced from their station by westerly winds ; other- 
wise the rendezvous was to be the Bayona Islands off 
Galicia. But no westerly gales came to blow them to 
fortune, and while they cruised fifty leagues to seaward on 
no definite system and without observation vessels, the 
Plate fleet slipped into Cadiz behind them unsighted. 

Towards the end of November they were driven home 
in scattered groups, with no semblance of discipline or 
cohesion left, and Cecil had nothing to show for his 
pains but a swollen death roll, a shattered fleet no longer 
fit for sea, and for his reward the nickname of ' General 
Sit-still.' On the ocean and the Spanish coast they had 
accomplished nothing, and in the Mediterranean the 
Marquis of Santa-Cruz had been left free to fly to the 
rescue of Genoa with a fleet of galleys. The French 
were forced to retire, and, along the Riviera, place after 
place was reoccupied by the Spanish admiral. In spite 
of the great effort that had been made, the Hapsburg 
position was stronger than ever. England had put forth 
her dreaded sea power and had failed. The link between 
Spain and Austria had renewed its strength. Charles's 
chance of breaking it had passed away, and the Thirty 
Years' War was left to run its appalling course with no 
interference from the British navy. 

The truth is that England was still under the Eliza- 
bethan spell. It was not seen that the centre of power 
had passed from Spain to the Empire. Spain in English 
eyes was still the womb of all disturbance. Could she be 
brought low, all would be well. If war were to be made, it 
must be waged as Elizabeth had waged it — in the Atlan- 
tic and against Spanish trade. It was at this time that 
the full accounts of Drake's exploits were being published 
by his family, and it was with Drake's spirit, as Essex and 
Ealegh had transfigured it, that Buckingham was in- 
spired.^ No one could see that the heart of the situation 

• Sir Francis Drake Revived was published in 1626, and dedicated by 
Sir Francis Drake, Bart., to Charles I. Tlie World Encompassed he pub- 
lished in 1628, and dedicated it to Robert Earl of Warwick, afterwards Lord 
High Admiral. 


had changed its place since his strategy had passed into 
legend, and that it was only in the Mediterranean that 
England would come within striking distance of the new 
vital points. 

In 1626 an effort was made to get a new fleet to sea 
under Lord Willoughby, another professional soldier, but 
it was again directed against the Plate fleet, and started 
so late in the year that it was driven back by gales in the 
Bay before ever it reached its station. In the following 
year Buckingham's wild diplomacy had driven us into war 
with France, and the navy was employed in disastrous 
efforts to assist the Huguenots at Kochelle. England was 
drifting further and further from the Mediterranean. 
Even when Venice, alarmed at the turn things were 
taking, decided to mediate between France and England 
and endeavour to stop the insane war, it was understood 
that, if peace came about, the British fleet was to be used 
in the Baltic to support the frontal attack from Scandi- 
navia. It was on the eve of Buckingham's assassination, 
as he was about to lead in person a fresh attempt to 
reheve Eochelle, that Venice offered her mediation and 
nothing came of it. In the autumn Kochelle capitulated, 
and peace with France followed in the spring. But still 
no fleet went to the Baltic, though Gustavus Adolphus, 
about to launch on his meteoric career, was crying loudly 
for its help. In despair the King of Denmark made his 
peace with the Empire and withdrew from the Protestant 
alliance. In the following year came peace with Spain, 
patched up on the lines of that of 1604, which gave to 
England practically nothing of all she had fought for so 
long and arduously; and from that time she finally stood 
aside from the mighty struggle while Gustavus Adolphus 
did her work by hurling the Hapsburg back from the 
Baltic. From either of the two seas which gave her a 
pathway into the heart of Europe she might have deeply 
influenced the result ; but Charles never understood the 
power he could have put forth. Again, in 1632, when 
Gustavus was at the zenith of his reputation, and there 
seemed nothing to stop his sweeping the Hapsburgs 
from the face of Europe, if only his rear were secured, 


he pleaded for the British fleet in the Baltic, and again, 
in spite of wise counsel from his ministers, Charles stub- 
bornly refused to listen. His whole naval policy was 
sinking further into reaction, and for the rest of his reign it 
was devoted, with the aid of the famous ship-money fleets, 
to enforcing his claim to the sovereignty of the Narrow 
Seas and to preventing their being disturbed by opera- 
tions of the beUigerents. 



It was many a long day before England was again in 
a position to assert herself in the Mediterranean, and 
before her hour came the situation that had existed when 
she first entered the Straits had wholly changed. In the 
interval, during which the British navy was occupied 
in the great constitutional struggle between King and 
Parliament, a new sea power had arisen. France, with 
whom the epic contest was to be fought out, had 
definitely taken her place upon the waters of the Medi- 

In the last revolt of the Huguenots, Kichelieu had 
seen his vast work of building up the modern French 
kingdom almost brought to ruin for want of a fleet, 
and it was in 1626, when he saw the English sea power 
about to be thrown into the rebels' scale, that he bogan 
to lay his foundations. It was in England he found 
his model. Up to this time the French navy had 
dragged on a moribund existence under its old mediaeval 
organisation, and was still administered on almost feudal 
lines by four independent Admiralties. His first move 
was to sweep them away and centralise the whole 
organisation as it was centralised in England. He did 
in fact in one stroke what in. England had been done 
in three main strides of development extending over 
a whole century. When Henry VIII. in his last years 
had created his central office of the navy, he had 
left the service with much of its mediaeval colouring by 
retaining the great office of Lord High Admiral un- 
impaired. Under Elizabeth, however, it had been largely 
modernised, not by any definite reform, but in the 


characteristic English way of unrecognised change that 
was found practically convenient. Lord Howard of 
Effingham remained to all appearance head of the navy, 
but the bulk of the work was done by Lord Burleigh and 
his chosen right hand, Sir John Hawkins, so that the 
Admiralty tended to become more and more an ordinary 
State department under the direct control of the chief 
minister of the Crown. By Cranfield's reform the 
work was practically completed. The last touch was 
given by Buckingham when he succeeded in getting for 
himself the office of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports 
concurrently with that of Lord High Admiral. Thence- 
forward, like other departments, the navy was ad- 
ministered mainly by civilian public servants, while pro- 
fessional officers contented themselves with handling 
the material that was provided for them. All this 
Eichelieu accomplished, or seemed to have accomplished, 
in one- act, by abolishing the four Admiralties and 
substituting in their place a central State department, 
with himself at its head as Grand Master of Navigation. 
Imnaediately beneath him were two Secretaries of State, 
one for the West and one for the Levant— that is, one 
for the Ocean and one for the Mediterranean. These 
officers w^ith two others formed a naval council, whose 
orders were executed in each of six maritime provinces 
by a civihan officer styled Lieutenant-General of the 
Grand Master. The fleet itself was organised in four 
squadrons — those of Normandy, Brittany, and Guienne 
for the Ocean, and that of Provence for the Mediterranean. 
The system of allocation marks clearly the trend of 
naval thought at the time. Every eye was turned to 
the great waters. The momentous revolution that was 
working itself out upon the ocean and Far Eastern seas 
absorbed attention. It was there the great struggle for 
dominion must be settled, and until some one of the 
oceanic powers had established some kind of preponder- 
ance, it was impossible for any of them to make itself 
felt with a mastering hand upon the Mediterranean. 
So far indeed did the old arena appear to have lost its 
importance, that for a time the Proven9al or Medi- 


terranean squadron remained what it had always been, 
and was represented practically by the Marseilles galleys 
and nothing more. It was not till France found herself 
drawn openly into the Thirty Years' War in a life 
and death struggle with the Hapsburg alliance, that 
the importance of the Mediterranean reasserted itself, 
and it was once more perceived to be what it always 
had been and always must be. In 1G31 Richelieu 
entered into alliance with Gustavus Adolphus ; in the 
two following years he was considering the project of a 
great ship canal from Marseilles to the ocean, and the 
famous naval port of Toulon was begun. His next step 
was to purchase from the young Duke of Eetz, then only 
fifteen years old, the office of Captain-General of the 
Galleys, which carried with it the Lieutenancy of the 
Levant, the one medigeval office that had survived his 
reforms of 1626. Thus his administrative revolution 
was completed, and the French navy could begin its 
career as an homogeneous entity. 

But for all he could do, when war with the Haps- 
burgs was declared in 1635, he was powerless to take 
the offensive in the Mediterranean, and had to rely on 
coast defence, while Santa-Cruz threatened the ^ shores 
of Provence and finally seized the Lerins islands. 
Situated as they were, they formed a standing menace 
to the new naval base at Toulon, and the Spaniards 
were occupying them in force and rapidly throwing up 
fortifications of great strength, as though the occupation 
were intended to be permanent. Richelieu at once 
recognised the error in his naval strategy, and issued 
orders for practically the whole force of the oceanic 
squadrons to concentrate at Belle Isle and thence to 
enter the Mediterranean. 

The fleet he was able to collect was a testimony to 
the success of his reforms. It consisted of some forty 
ships of war, including the great * St. Louis ' of 1,000 
tons, and nine other vessels of 500 tons, the bulk of 
which belonged to Brittany, where Brest was fast 
assuming the place in the west that Toulon was to 
achieve in the south. There were, besides, fourteen 

I. L 


transport and store ships and six fire-ships, which were 
beginning to be regarded as a necessary factor in 
every thoroughly equipped fleet, and were yearly grow- 
ing in tactical import mce. The effort practically ex- 
hausted the whole capacity of the oceanic squadrons, 
and, compared wdth the force England could display, the 
result was not very imposing. Yet it was a respectable 
force enough, and about Midsummer 1636 it passed the 
Straits without finding anything to oppose it, and effected 
a junction at Hyeres with the galleys and a small 
sailing squadron from Toulon. But there for the time 
its energy ended. During the rest of the year the 
mutual jealousy of the various commanders prevented 
anything being done, and so low was the fleet reduced 
that it was actually in contemplation for half of it to 
return to the western ports to refit. At the same 
moment, however, the Spaniards prematurely reduced 
their garrison in the Lerins islands. The French seized 
the occasion, attacked wuth their whole force, and by the 
middle of May 1637 the Lerins were once more in 
French hands. For the remainder of the year they were 
able to secure a working command of the sea and greatly 
assist military operations on the Spanish frontier. As 
winter came on, however, it was found impossible to 
keep the fleet at sea any longer, and the bulk of it had to 
be sent back to the western ports for an overhaul. Still, 
a contingent from each division remained to be dealt 
with in the Proven9al ports, and thus was set on a per- 
manent footing the famous Toulon squadron. In the 
spring of 1638 it consisted of eighteen ships of war, 
six of which were of 400 tons and upwards, and three 
fire-ships — a small beginning, it is true, but, taken with 
the formidable and increasing force that was being deve- 
loped in the ocean ports, it w^as enough to give France 
a definite status as a first-rate sea power in the Mediter- 

* For the French navy at this time see Jal, Abraham du Quesne et la 
Marine de son temps. Guerin {Ilistoire Maritime) is now regarded in 
France as untrustworthy. See De la Eonciere, Hist, de la Marine, vol. i. 

1643 THE DUG L)E BliEZE 147 

During the remainder of the war the Toulon squadron, 
supported from time to time by a division from the 
Atlantic, continued to have a marked influence on its 
progress. Its strategical value was mainly displayed in 
the security enjoyed by the shore of Provence and the 
coastwise traffic, and by the support it was able to give 
to the French offensive operations, both in Italy on the 
one side and Catalonia on the other. So convincing was 
Richelieu's naval policy that his death brought no inter- 
ruption of the course upon which he had launched the 
new monarchy. He was succeeded as Grand Master by 
his nephew, the young Due de Breze, and the growing 
importance of the Mediterranean in French eyes was em- 
phasised by his taking command of the Toulon fleet in 
person. Though this was a departure from Richelieu's 
idea of naval administration, it worked well. The youth- 
ful chief showed himself both capable and active, and his 
first campaign was the most vigorous that had yet been 
fought. Early in August 1643 he was able to put to sea 
with twenty-four ships of war, a squadron of galleys, and 
thirteen fire-ships, and he had ordered seven more ships to 
join him from the Atlantic. Running down the coast of 
Catalonia he captured, off Barcelona, five fine Spanish 
men-of-war, and added them subsequently to his fleet. 
Continuing his way, he ascertained off Cartagena that 
there w^as an armada in Cadiz preparing to oppose him, 
and he boldly held on to meet it. So serious was the 
disturbance of the Spaniards' plans, which the French 
action in the Mediterranean had produced, that they had 
been compelled to order the Dunkn'k squadron, the flower 
of their navy, to enter the Straits. Off Cape Gata the 
two fleets met. All day they fought, and so much did the 
advantage lie with the young French admiral that he not 
only destroyed three of the finest of the Spanish vessels, 
but was able to continue his way towards Gibraltar to 
join hands with his Atlantic division. Still not content, 
he made a demonstration off Algiers to endeavour to eflect 
an exchange of prisoners, and, after capturing a corsair or 
two, returned in triumph to Toulon. With pardonable 
pride he ordered a medal to be struck to commemorate 

L 2 


the campaign, and it bore the legend, Presage de Vempire 
de la mer. 

It was scarcely too much to boast, seeing what the 
command of the Mediterranean meant for France, and it 
w^ould seem that Mazarin's cool head saw Breze's cam- 
paign in scarcely less glittering colouis than did the 
young commander himself. He began to perceive there 
were possibilities in the new weapon beyond anything 
it had yet achieved. So long as his alliance with the 
Dutch remained firm he could trust to them the care of 
the ocean and the support of his army operating in the 
Spanish Netherlands, while, with the exception of a 
sufficient force for coast defence, he could concentrate 
practically the whole of the French naval strength in the 
Mediterranean. Mazarin is usually blamed for having 
neglected the navy, and having failed to maintain the 
vigorous growth KicheHeu had inaugurated. But seeing 
the vast drain which the military exigencies of the situa- 
tion were making upon the resources of the country, and 
the practical security which the Dutch alliance gave him 
in the Atlantic, the censure is probably unjust. Eegard- 
ing his war pohcy from a purely strategical point of view, 
it would be a fairer judgment to praise him unreservedly 
for the bold and clear view which recognised the limited 
naval capacity of his country, and decided to concentrate 
the whole of it at the most vital point. That point he 
recognised in the western half of the Mediterranean. 
With the Spaniards in command of it, it was a path for 
invasion into Southern France. In French hands it was 
a gulf driven through the centre of the Hapsburg system 
and exposing it to incalculable attacks in every direc- 
tion. On this principle Mazarin appears to have acted. 
Whether or not he fully appreciated what he was doing 
is a personal question that does not concern us. We have 
but to observe the fact and mark the result. 

During the two years that followed the campaign of 
1643 the Due de Breze with his able lieutenant, the 
Chevalier Paul, was occupied in supporting the invasion 
of Catalonia ; but already Mazarin was contemplating 
for him a more telling stroke. For some time past his 


far-seeing eye had been fixed upon the old centres 
of Mediterranean power, and both in Naples and Sicily 
he had been busily fomenting the discontent which the 
maladministration of the Spaniards engendered. All that 
the possession of the Two Sicilies meant for his enemy 
was clear to him, and he was bent on wresting them from 
her grasp. ' It is no less a matter,' he wrote, in telling 
his agent to spare no expense, ' than the loss of two 
kingdoms, wdiich would be the death-blow to Spain.' 
His accurate measurement of the power at his disposal 
did not permit him to think of a direct conquest. The 
end was to be gained in another way by the hand of 
Priuce Thomas of Savoy. As a first step a military 
expedition under his command, supported by Breze's 
fleet, was directed against the ports ^vhich the Spaniards 
held in the south of Tuscany, in order to secure for 
France a fresh opening into the Spanish Italian posses- 
sions, and at the same time to warn the Pope of the 
danger of leaning too markedly to Spain. This done, if 
affairs in Naples were ripe for the reception of a liberator, 
the Prince w^as to be established there as king of an 
independent state, on condition that he would cede to 
France the port of Gaeta on the southern frontier of the 
Papal territory, and another in the Adriatic. It was 
further stipulated that, should he or his heirs ever succeed 
to the throne of Savoy, he was to cede to France so much of 
his territory as lay to the w^est of the Alps — that is to say, 
the province of Nice. Thus Mazarin, anticipating history 
by two centuries, sought to complete the Mediterranean 
coast-line of France, while at the same time he held the 
Pope gripped between two naval ports, secured a new- 
point from which to strike at the Hapsburg's communi- 
cations, established himself in the heart of the Mediter- 
ranean, and saw the key of it in the hands of a prince 
who must be dependent upon his master.^ 

It was a conception worthy of a great minister, and 
the Due de Breze w^as a commander well suited to 
his hand. In May 1646 he sailed from Toulon at the 
head of a fleet of twenty-six ships, twenty galleys, and 

' Lcttrcs du Cardinal Mazarin {Docinncnts Lu'dits), n. 304. 


eighteen fire-ships, together with a number of transports 
carrying six thousand troops under Prince Thomas of 
Savoy. Without difficulty they were suddenly throw^n 
ashore in Tuscany, and, having established himself there, 
the Prince, with the assistance of Breze's fleet, laid siege 
to Orbitello, the most important of the Spanish ports. 
To take the place by assault was impossible, and before 
the siege was four days old the Spanish fleet, which had 
rendezvoused at Naples, appeared to relieve it. The two 
fleets were fairly equal, except that the Spaniards w^ere 
considerably stronger in galleys. In the action that 
ensued both sides claimed the victory, but in effect it was 
the Spaniards who reaped all the advantage. The Dacde 
Breze, still only in his thirtieth year, was killed by a 
round shot, and his vice-admiral decided to take the 
fleet back into port to repair damages. It is true the 
Spaniards did the same, but their object w^as accom- 
plished. The Prince of Savoy found it impossible to 
continue the siege, and, so far from being able to proceed, 
crowned with victory, to Naples, it was only with the 
greatest difficulty he effected his retreat to Turin. 

Mazarin's first offensive stroke was parried, but his 
purpose held firm. The failure of the campaign had but 
served to emphasise the importance of the navy, and all 
the most exalted and ambitious spirits in France were 
eager to secure its command. The great Conde himself, 
who, since his late victory at Eocroy, was adored as 
the national hero, was the most pressing claimant to the 
vacant office of Grand Master, and Mazarin saw the very 
keenness of the new weapon threatening his policy with 
failure. Other great nobles were as covetous of the place 
as Conde, but Mazarin at all costs was resolved to hold 
true to his master's idea. The navy was far too powerful 
a factor in the new kingdom to be allowed to pass out of 
the control of the central Government. Henceforth it 
must lie in his own hands, as it had been in Eichelieu's, 
and with one of his masterly strokes he baffled all the 
claimants by getting the Queen Eegent herself to accept 
the exalted post. So Anne of Austria became Grand 
Master of Navigation, and whatever was the Queen 

1646 OrtBlTELLO AND ELBA lol 

Eegent's was Mazarin's. Unshaken by the late failure, 
the first use he made of his new power was to order a 
division of the Toulon fleet to sea with fresh troops, and 
before the autumn was out he was in possession of Piom- 
bino, another Tuscan port which the Spaniards occupied 
to the north of Orbitello, and firmly established in Porto 
Longone in the adjacent Isle of Elba. Thus his position 
was completely recovered. In Piombino he had a gate- 
way into Tuscany ; and in Ell)a, immediately opposite to 
it, an advanced naval base, which gave him a still greater 
advantage than that which the Spaniards enjoyed in 
Corsica and Sardinia. Nor did he sleep on his advantage 
or for one moment turn his eye from the great project he 
had conceived. In the following year the bulk of the 
Toulon fleet was occupied in supporting Conde, who had 
been induced to accept the command in Catalonia ; but 
a division of it was sent, under the Chevalier Paul, to 
Piombino and Elba to keep an eye on Naples. There at 
last Mazarin's machinations were bearing visible fruit. 
A revolution had broken out, and the famous Masaniello, 
at the head of a popular outbreak, had proclaimed a re- 
public. The news caused a profound sensation in Europe. 
The principal cities of Sicily had responded to the revolu- 
tionary movement, and men saw a possibility of the Two 
Sicilies becoming for Spain another Holland. All that 
seemed to be required was a leader of dignity and ex- 
perience, and the same kind of support from outside with 
which England under EHzabeth had enabled the Dutch 
to gain their feet. 

Still Mazarin held his hand. Prince Thomas received 
no call and the fleet remained at Elba. The fact was 
Mazarin had learned the great lesson. The late campaign 
had taught him that nothing really effective could be 
achieved without first gaining a real command of the sea. 
He was therefore resolved not to risk another step until 
he had concentrated every available ship in the Mediter- 
ranean. His success on the Tuscan coast had decided 
the Grand Duke to secretly throw in his lot with France, 
and he had sold all his galleys to Louis in the name of 
the Prince of Monaco. The new King of Portugal too 


had been engaged to send a squadron of his best ships 
to Toulon, and Du Quesne was on his way to enter 
the Straits with a squadron he had raised in Sweden. 
Mazarin knew besides that a premature intervention 
might nip the Neapohtan revolution in the bud, and to his 
agents' urgent calls from Italy he replied that they must 
not try to eat the fruit until it was ripe. With these 
considerations he also sought to quiet Prince Thomas's 
impatience ; for the truth was he meant to throw him 
over. His great scheme had taken a further development. 
Conde was the greatest leader in Europe ; Conde was the 
great stumblingblock to Mazarin's internal policy ; and 
the astute minister saw that, if Conde could only be 
induced to accept the enterprise of the Two Sicilies, he 
would achieve a double stroke of incalculable advantage 
to his countr3^ Not only would the chief disturbing 
factor be removed from France, but, with a prince of the 
blood at the head of a new Mediterranean state, the Two 
Sicilies would become for France all that the Catholic 
Netherlands had been for Spain. 

So full of brilliant promise was Mazarin's idea that 
it is difficult not to pause a moment and w^onder how^ the 
course of European policy might have been changed 
could Conde have been induced to spend his ambition and 
unrivalled genius in building up at Naples or Palermo a 
naval state in sympathy with France. But it was not to 
be, Conde apparently could only see in the proposal a 
crafty design to ruin him, and he refused. So Mazarin 
was forced back on Prince Thomas and his policy of 
w^aiting till the fruit was ripe. Still hoping Conde might 
change his mind, he resolved to let things stay as they 
were till he could no longer hold back. But, just when all 
w^as settled, his hand was forced by a wholly unlooked-for 

In Kome was the young Duke of Guise, trying to get a 
divorce, and longing to drown his private cares in any wild 
sea of public adventure. No more romantic or fascinating 
figure gilds the annals of his time. In person, character, 
and temper. Heaven seemed to have designed him for a 
popular hero. The blood of the old Angevins who had 


once ruled in the Sicilies tingled in his veins and fired him 
to seek in the storroy outburst at Naples a way to his 
highest aspirations. More astute even than Mazarin, he 
industriously fomented republican opinions in Naples 
till one day he received from the popular leaders an 
invitation to come and be to them what the princes of the 
House of Orange had been to the Dutch. He asked Louis's 
consent to accept, and Mazarin hardly knew what to 
answer. There was still time to consider, however, and 
Mazarin felt he might safely risk a vague consent. He 
was sure at any rate that for the present Guise could not 
Bct upon it ; for the Spanish fleet held the sea, and the land 
route to Naples was nnpossible. But suddenly came the 
news that the daring young prince had gone aboard a 
felucca almost alone, and, passing through the centre of 
the blockading Spanish force, had landed at Naples. A 
feather-headed young gallant, no matter how brilliant 
his personality, was the last instrument Mazarin would 
have chosen to work his Mediterranean policy. But 
he had to act. The Toulon squadron had retired into 
port for the winter. Nevertheless, so much of it as could 
get to sea was immediately ordered out, and after serious 
delay from the wintry weather it appeared off Naples. 
But there w^as now no Due de Breze to give it life. The 
Due de Eichelieu was in command, and though he had 
under him such officers as the Chevaher Paul and Abraham 
Du Quesne, he practically did nothing. After blockading 
the enemy's fleet under the guns of the batteries that were 
still in Spanish hands for two months, and fighting a half- 
hearted action, he returned in disorder to Toulon. 

The enterprise of Naples had failed a second time, but 
Guise was still there, and Mazarin was too firmly set on 
his great idea not to persist. He kept repeating to all 
concerned that the loss of Naples meant the death-blow to 
Spain, and stirred every nerve to prepare a still stronger 
expedition for the spring of 1648. But long before it 
could sail came the news that Guise's reckless behaviour 
had succeeded in disgusting the Neapolitans. The 
Spaniards had been treacherously readmitted and the 
Duke was a prisoner. The event was not entirely un- 


welcome. Neither Louis nor Mazarin had ever approved 
Guise's adventures, and now falHng back on the original 
idea they offered the command of the new expedition 
they were preparing to Prince Thomas. He accepted, 
but it was not till August that he was able to get to sea. 
The force at his command was the most powerful France 
had yet developed upon the Mediterranean. It consisted 
of some seventy sail of warships and transports, and 
Mazarin had reason to hope that its appearance in the 
Bay of Naples would be the signal for a new revolution, 
or at least that it would be able to seize one of the 
Neapolitan islands and establish there a base for further 
operations. In both expectations he was disappointed. 
So strongly had the Spaniards re-estabHshed themselves, 
and so ill were the operations conducted, that it was 
found impossible to accomplish anything. 

Mazarin 's far-sighted design had finally failed, but it 
had left its mark. So near had it been to success, so 
dangerously had the balance of Mediterranean power 
been swaying for a change, that a new condition had been 
definitely introduced into European politics. The saihng 
of that formidable fleet from Toulon marks the definite 
appearance of France as a Mediterranean power, and the 
abortive attempt on the Two Sicilies was to be remem- 
bered less as a failure than as an indication of the possi- 
bilities that lay open to the new sea power. Though for 
a time the outbreak of Conde paralysed the action of 
France with civil war, every one felt the attempt was 
likely to be renewed so soon as she was herself again, and 
nowhere was the new situation more keenly watched than 
in England. 



At the moment when the preoccupation of civil strife 
brought to a halt the development of the French navy, 
that of England was set free, and she found herself at 
liberty to reappear in the Mediterranean just when France 
was forced to abandon her attempt to dominate it. It was 
a memorable hour, big with transition. There are few 
points in European history where a period is so strongly 
marked as at this halting place — midway in the seventeenth 
century. As we listen to the great paean there comes 
a pause in its throb, and when the sound flows on again 
it is in a rhythm entirely changed. In the history of 
the British navy it is no less marked than in that of 
European polity. When England awoke to take her place 
once more among the powers, it was to face a new 
situation with a new weapon and a new method of wield- 
ing it. 

The situation must be clearly apprehended. The 
main reason which had made Mazarin so eager to deal 
Spain a death-blow in the Mediterranean was that, in 
January 1648, she had induced his Dutch allies to make a 
separate peace with her, and thus the struggle between 
Spaniards and Dutch which had lasted eighty years was 
brought definitely to an end. Mazarin's idea had been to 
force Spain into a peace with France by creating in the 
Mediterranean a situation which she dared not face. In 
this, as we have seen, he failed ; but before the year was 
out he had come to terms with the Empire and thus broken 
up the Hapsburg alliance. At the same time the Empire 
too made peace with Sweden, and the Thirty Years' War 
was at an end. Spain and France were left facing each 

166 THE NEW NAVY 1630-8 

other single-handed, each crippled by inherent troubles, 
but fairly matched and neutralising one another on the 
European board. The other prime factors in the situa- 
tion were that the United Provinces were starting finally on 
their brief career as one of the great powers ; Portugal was 
again an independent kingdom ; and, lastly, there had 
arisen on the ruins of the decrepit Stuart monarchy a 
military state whose power of disturbance it was impos- 
sible to calculate. 

It was a phenomenon unknown to modern Europe, 
and no one could tell how to deal with it. Diplomacy 
was in those days almost entirely a matter of dynastic 
connections, and here was a state without a d3"nasty. 
The extraordinary military ability it had developed 
made it a desirable ally, but in every Court of Europe 
it was regarded with repulsion, which the execution of 
the King increased to loathing. It was natural then 
that the only method of handling the situation that 
suggested itself to the old monarchies was to keep well 
with the exiled dynasty till an opportunity arose for 
restoring it and so securing its alliance. Till that time 
came the new Bepublic could be ignored as a pariah 
among nations. Eor, powerful as was its military strength, 
its navy as yet had made no appearance, and there was no 
indication that it could stretch its arm beyond the sea. 

The position indeed in which the Commonwealth 
found itself at the outset of its career upon the sea w^as 
almost ignominious, and gave no sign of the impressive 
future that lay before it. It was not that the navy had 
been neglected. From the King the Parliamentary 
Government had inherited a force that was not below the 
traditional standard. No one can deny to Charles his devo- 
tion to the navy. It was the immediate cause of his ruin 
and the outcome of it one of the mainstays of his opponents. 
So soon as Kichelieu's energy began to threaten a serious 
rivalry upon the seas, a new era of naval activity had set 
in and the English dockyards were busy, as they were to 
be so often again, in a building match with the French. 
In 1G31 Charles had procured a detailed return of 
Richelieu's navy, showing some forty vessels ranging from 


200 to 900 tons, more than half of them being 34 to 40-gun 
ships of 400 to 500 tons. Such a navy, at least on paper, 
was a serious rival, and in the next three years the English 
dockyards turned out four vessels of about 800 tons and 
two of 500, so that in the ensuing year the * ship money * 
fleets could ride the Narrow Seas in undisputed mastery. 

But the contest did not end here. The French had laid 
down a vessel of 1400 tons, and Charles called for designs 
for a three-decker of 1500. Such a ship had never been 
heard of. It was some years under consideration, but in 
spite of the protests of the experts that a warship with 
three gun decks was * beyond the art or wit of man to con- 
struct,' the King persisted. In January 1636 the keel was 
laid, and in October 1638 was launched the famous 
' Sovereign of the Seas ' of 102 guns, the pride and glory of 
the Caroline navy, and the first three-decker ever built. 
Yet the French were not altogether beaten. In the 
same year they were able to commission the ' Couronne ' 
of 2000 tons ; but, though she was 28 ft. longer than 
the ' Sovereign,' she w^as not a three-decker and only 
carried 72 guns. Still Charles was not satisfied. He 
began at once to contemplate another ' Sovereign,' but 
before her keel could be laid his troubles were upon him 
and she was still-born. 

It is not only in this early contest with France that 
the interest of the Caroline programme lies. It was an 
age of invention and experiment : the new scientific spirit 
was astir, and naval architecture, like everything else, felt 
its quickening. Engines for moving ships against wind 
and tide were constantly being designed, paddle vessels 
were regularly employed for towing the navy ships in and 
out of the Medway, and even submarines were not beyond 
the daring of inventors.' Such aspirations were of course 
premature ; but a distinct advance in naval architecture did 
take place, and its most prominent result was the appear- 
ance of the modern ' frigate.' In 1627, during the height 
of his war with France and Spain, Charles had sought to 
supply his lack of cruisers by building ten ' whelps ' of 

' An interesting account of these inventions is among Lord Dartmouth's 

168 THE NEW NAVY 1630-8 

about 200 tons. They were still on Elizabethan lines, 
designed like the larger pinnaces to use oars, but were 
otherwise small replicas of ' great ships.' In 1640 
Richelieu replied with ten ' dragones,' apparently on the 
same lines. So far there seems little sign of change in 
the tj^pical cruiser, from either England or France. The 
truth is that neither country can claim the credit of the 

* frigate.' It was in the piratical port of Dunkirk, where 
constructors were freed from Government control, that the 
real step w^as taken. We have seen how^ the place had 
been earning itself the reputation of the smartest dock- 
yard in Europe, and turning out privateers which no one 
could touch. In the year 1635, when the Conde de 
Fuentes took over the command of the Spanish squadron 
of Dunkirk, he found in it a division of twelve ' fregatas ' 
which Spaniards regarded as a wholly new type and 
claim as the model that all nations follow^ed. The ocean 
powers had all of course long ago left behind the original 
Mediterranean form of 'frigate,' which was only a small 
and modified galley, and were applying the word to 
small fast-sailing vessels such as the gallizahras, which 
carried the Spanish treasure trade. But the Dunkirk ships 
were a still further advance. For the most part they were 
vessels of from 200 to 300 tons, with 20 to 30 guns, and their 
marked characteristic was that they had no poop or fore- 
castle of any kind, but an upper deck that ran flush from 
stem to stern, a modification which was found to give 
them extraordinary speed and handiness.^ 

During the year 1635 the Dunkirkers, with their hand 
against every man's, made a remarkable number of 
prizes ; but in 1636 two of them, the ' Swan ' and the 

* Nicodemus,' were captured by the ' ship money ' fleet 
under Northumberland, and were added to the navy as 
the fastest vessels afloat. Sir John Penington, his vice- 
admiral and one of the most experienced officers in the 
service, w^as so much struck with them that he advised 
the ' Swan ' being taken as a model in the English dock- 
yards, and the * Nicodemus ' was said to run away from 
everything ' as a greyhound does from a little dog.' The 

* Duro, Armada Es_pafiola, iv. 407. 


dimeDsions of the ' Swan ' are unknown, for before Pen- 
ington's advice could be acted on Lhe was wrecked off 
Guernsey ; but the ' Nicodemus ' we know to have been of 
105 tons with a length of nearly 3^ times her beam. This 
was a distinct advance on the old galleon proportion, on 
which Charles's construction had been going in all his 
latest ships, and it may be that this increased length was 
a further characteristic of the new Dunkirk frigates, and 
that this is the real explanation of the same characteristic 
appearing in the first frigates of the Long Parliament. 

The point is difficult to determine, for, owing to the 
troubles that supervened, the English dockyards, so far as 
new work was concerned, were silent for nearly ten years. 
Though the navy had not particularly distinguished itself 
during the first civil war, it had remained staunch to its 
paymasters and had sufficed to give the Parliament the 
command of the sea against the King. It was not till 
the last great effort was being made to bring the protracted 
strife to a conclusion that any serious measures were taken 
to increase the naval energy of the Parliament. 

It is in the year 1645 that we may place the concep- 
tion of the true modern navy — the 5^ear that by a strange 
chance was the centenary of the fleet which marked the 
culmination of the naval reforms of Henry VIII., and 
which finally established the English domination of the 
Narrow Seas. The movement out of which the change 
came was the same that produced the New Model 
army, so that in that year we see our modern army and 
our modern navy lying as it were side by side in one 
cradle. By virtue of the Self-Denying Ordinance both 
services passed together out of the hands of the politicians 
to be refashioned by professional men. The Earl of 
Warwick resigned his office of Lord High Admiral, and 
its duties were vested in a commission of six peers and 
twelve commoners. The influence of the experts was at 
once visible in a programme embodying the ideas which 
had been in the air for the past ten years. During 1610 
and 1647, the first years of the new administration, at least 
nine vessels of the new long frigate type were launched. 
They varied from a little over 200 tons up to nearly 500, 

160 THE NEW NAVY 1645-8 

and carried from 26 to 38 guns. Most famous of them 
all was the * Constant Warwick,' built in 1646 as a 
privateer by a syndicate in which Warwick was the chief 
partner. From her birth she was regularly chartered by 
the Parliament, and finally purchased into the navy in 1649. 

Pepys believed her to have been the first true frigate 
ever laid down in an English dockyard, and to have been 
copied from a French vessel that had been lying in the 
Thames. This may have been the fact, but she can hardly 
claim to be the first of her class, since in the same year 
she was built the Government launched four others of 
their own which were on lines even more advanced than 
the 'Warwick.' Even therefore if she was actually 
copied from a French ship, the others were not, and the 
oft-repeated assertion that we owed the type to France 
cannot be supported. The fact probably is that both 
nations learnt in the same school — the school of Dunkirk, 
which at that time, if it was anything, was Spanish, 
although it did actually surrender to the French in this 
very year, 1646. 

So far then all was going well with the navy of the 
Parliament. The men, better paid and treated than they 
had ever been before, and commanded by seamen after 
their own heart, responded wdth ungrudging obedience, and 
it w^as not till the triumph of the constitutional party 
split it into two factions that the trouble began. So little 
interest had the sailors displayed in the merits of the 
struggle, that a revolt was hardly to be looked for, and 
indeed it may be doubted whether any would have 
occurred, had it not been for the lines on which the split 
declared itself. The question of the future settlement of 
the Government rapidly resolved itself into a quarrel 
between the older constitutionalists and the new military 
party. The jealousy which to some extent is inevitable 
between the two services naturally inclined the sailors to 
be restless under the threatened domination of military 
officers, especially as it seemed to them to involve a return 
to the detested landsmen officers of Charles's time. The 
anxiety of the military party to secure the fleet brought 
about the crisis. In October 1647 Captain William 

1C48 THE MUTINY OF 1648 161 

Batten, a popular seaman who had been appointed Vice- 
Admiral of England and Commander-in-Chief when 
Warwick had been obliged to resign, was smnmoned some- 
what peremptorily to explain certain matters to the 
Government, and, being uneasy at the turn things w^ere 
taking, seized the opportunity to tender his resignation. 
It was accepted with alacrity, and an active member of the 
Navy Board, Colonel Thomas Kainsborough, appointed 
Commander-in-Chief in his place. He was a typical man 
of the New Model, a strong Independent, and apparently 
filled ^Yith an overweening sense of what was due to the 
men of the army that had delivered the country. To the 
sailors he was detestable, for, although he had formerly 
commanded afloat, he was essentially the soldier. For 
six months they endured what they called his * insuffer- 
able pride, ignorance, and insolency,' and then they mu- 
tinied and refused to allow him aboard his ship. The 
other vessels of the fleet followed the example of the flag- 
ship and similarly got rid of their objectionable officers. 

May 1648, when the mutiny occurred, was one of the 
darkest hours for the revolution. The second civil war 
was breaking out. The Scots were preparing to cross the 
border to the King's rescue, and Koyahst risings had taken 
place in Wales, the Eastern Counties, and Kent. The 
Presbyterians in London could barely be controlled ; there 
was every sign of the insurrection spreading to Surrey and 
Essex ; the Kentish Koyalists were threatening the capital 
from Eochester and Deptford ; and under the guns of the 
revolted ships the castles of Deal, Sandown, and Walmer 
were forced to surrender, and Dover was besieged. There 
was not a moment to lose. The seamen demanded that 
Warwick should come back to command them, and the 
Government had no choice but to reappoint him Lord 
High Admiral and send him off at once. He was so far 
successful that of the twenty-seven vessels that composed 
the fleet in the Downs he was able to secure eighteen ; but 
the other nine, including the ' Constant Keformation ' and 
one of the new frigates, declared openly for the King and 
stood over to Goree in Holland. 

Thither the Prince of Wales hastened to meet them, 
I. M. 

162 THE NEW NAVY 1648 

and so large was the demand which the new civil war 
made upon the Parhamentary fleet that he fomid himself 
actually in superior force to anything that could be brought 
to meet him. The way was open for a sudden descent 
on the capital or the revolted counties, and in July he 
stood over to the English coast. There, to make matters 
worse, Batten, who managed to escape from custody 
in London, joined him in the * Constant Warwick.' 
The Prince had now eleven vessels and the most popular 
and experienced ofticers in the service at his command, 
and Warwick had not yet succeeded in weeding his fleet 
of sedition. For a month the Prince was able to blockade 
the Thames, intercepting a number of valuable homeward- 
bound vessels, and to keep himself interposed between the 
Chatham and Portsmouth divisions of the Parliamentary 
fleet. It was a most promising situation in view of the 
unrest of the Presbyterian City and the Scottish inva- 
sion. Unfortunately the Prince had insisted on com- 
manding the fleet himself, and neither he nor his Presby- 
terian vice-admiral. Lord Willoughby of Parham, knew 
anything of their business; and as for Batten, who had 
been knighted and made rear-admiral, he was too un- 
easy in his conscience to be capable of vigorous action. 
Thus nothing was made of the opportunity. Every 
attempt to assist the movement in the home counties 
failed ignominiously. Eor fear of offending the City, the 
prizes were given up for next to nothing, and neither 
division of the Parliamentary fleet was brought to action. 
Then came Cromwell's crushing defeat of the Scots at 
Preston to shatter all the hopes on which the Prince's 
action was based ; and though the seamen forced him 
to make one desperate attempt to bring Warwick to 
action in the Thames, it failed, and the revolted ships 
had to return to Helvoetsluys, where Warwick blockaded 
them till the advancing season compelled him to with- 

Thus the naval position of the Commonwealth at the 
outset of its career was by no means imposing. It had 
displayed an inability to use the force at its command 
with vigour and promptitude, and the Prince of Wales had 


the nucleus of a fleet, officered by some of the best men 
in the service, to increase the demands that the mari- 
time force of the Parhament had proved inadequate to 
meet. Save for the evil star of the Stuarts the situa- 
tion might have been still worse, but, as usual, they played 
into their enemies' hands. Already mutinous for want of 
pay, and mistrustful of their Presbyterian officers, the 
sailors were disgusted with the intrigues of the Prince's 
followers for the command. They themselves, uneasy at 
having been carried back to a foreign port, and clinging 
fanatically to the idea that they had not desertei their 
country, clamoured for the Duke of York, their legitimate 
Lord High Admiral, and at such a moment to place over 
them a foreigner was the most ill-advised step that could 
be taken. Yet this was what was done. Prince Eupert 
and his brother Maurice, who, though they had been at 
sea with the Prince of Wales, had made no progress in 
the seamen's affection, were nominated admiral and vice- 
admiral. The result was that Batten, Jordan (afterwards 
the famous admiral of the Dutch war), and two cr three 
other captains withdrew from the service, the sailors 
deserted wholesale, and, the ' Constant Warwick ' hiving 
already set the example, several of the other ships returned 
to England and surrendered. 

Still the position was awkward enough. The Royalists 
retained the nucleus of a fleet, around which privateers of 
all nations would be willing enough to gather in crier to 
prey on I^nglish commerce. The Queen of Bohen ia 
pawned her jewels to assist her adventurous sons, ar d tht y 
justified their appointment by such a display of ( nergy 
that in Januaiy 1649, a fortnight before the King's 
execution, they were able to put to sea with eight vessels, 
and under the wing of three Dutch East Indiamen to 
pass down the Channel defying the winter guard to stop 

Hitherto the civil war had been confined to the land ; 
but now, with Scotland and Ireland on their hands, and 
every foreign nation in a condition of barely concealed 
hostility, the revolutionary Government saw it spreading 
to the sea. But for the new men danger was only a spur 

164 THE NEW NAVY 1649 

to effort. Energ3% thoroughness, and a practical and 
scientific directness of method were their note, and the King 
was barely in his grave before they set on foot those 
far-reaching measures, that finally transformed the navy 
to its modern shape, and established England as the great 
naval power of the world. 

The promptitude with which they acted reveals the 
importance they attached to their maritime position, and 
the boldness and sagacity with which they grasped the 
task that lay before them. It was on January 30, 1649, 
that the King's head fell. On February 2 they voted 
that no fewer than thirty armed merchantmen should 
be added to the fleet ; ten days later they placed the 
office of naval Commander-in-Chief in the hands of a 
commission consisting of three of their most trusted 
colonels ; ten days later, again, Warwick's appointment 
as Lord High Admiral was terminated, and the powers 
and duties of the office vested in the Council of State ; 
and even before they had formally abolished the kingly 
offic:^ they had passed two ordinances for the en- 
couragement of seamen and increasing the attractions of 
the naval service. The main feature of these measures 
wa^ a large increase and clear definition of the share of 
prize money which they intended to allow, and in view 
of the policy they were contemplating and the recent 
exhibition of the eeamen's opinion some substantial 
gratification was imperative. For the navy was about to 
be Lro ight definitely under the military domination, which 
had been threatening and exasperating it ever since the 
fall of Howard, and herein lies the absorbing interest of 
the new administration. 

In a sense the reform was a reaction — a reaction to 
the system w^hich Drake and his school had broken down 
— a reaction to the ideas of the Mediterranean which 
regarded the naval and military arts as one. In the south 
the two arts were but two branches of the great art of 
war, governed by the same essential principles and to be 
worked out on the same essential lines. It was this 
influence which, stiffened into pedantry, had choked the 
development of naval science till the Elizabethans 


delivered it. But great advance as was the reform of 
Wynter, Hawkins, and Drake, it must not be forfjotten 
that it was mainly destructive. They broke down the old 
tradition, but created little to take its place. True, there 
are signs that Drake saw dimly the disease which his 
work was likely ta engender, and in the year after the 
Armada he experimented for a remedy ; but time and op- 
portunity were wanting for fruition. In Buckingham's 
time, as we have seen, an attempt was made to restore the 
good that had perished with the evil, but it was attempted 
on vicious lines and the remedy proved worse than the 
disease. Then the Long Parliament went back frankly 
to the ideas of the Elizabethan seamen, and they too 
missed success — even came close to disaster. It is but 
natural then that the new military government should 
see in that lack of success a lesson that was perfectly clear 
to their eyes. It was the mihtary element that was 
wanting — not as Buckingham understood it — not the 
chivalry and the feathers, but the element of the pro- 
fessional soldier with his mitter-of-fact appreciation of 
the fundamental principles of his art. It was this element 
to which the Parliament had surrendered itself in its most 
hopeless hour, and it had given them the New Moiel 
army. Now that the New Model was in power it Wc.s 
inevitable that it should see salvation for the navy in the 
same element by which it had triumphed. 

Nowhere exists any definite enunciation of these 
views. The work shows itself to us as an assertion of 
that instinct for administration which is the remarkable 
feature of the Commonwealth, and we have to gather it 
from what was done and not from what was said. In 
what was done the trend of thought is unmistakable. 
We see it clearly in the choice of their three ' Generals 
at Sea,' as they came to be called. Colonel Edward 
Popham, it is true, had served afloat, but it was many 
years back, when he was quite a young man, and he was 
now forty. In the ship-money fleet of 1086 he had been 
lieutenant in the * Henrietta Maria,' and the following 
year commanded the * Fifth Whelp' and lost her. It 
was no fault of his, and be again had a ship in 1639. 

166 THE NEW NAVY 1649 

But the fact that a man commanded afloat in those days 
of landsmen captains is no proof that he was a sailor, 
and certainly at the outbreak of the civil war Popham 
served ashore, raising men for the Parliament and 
receiving the rank of colonel almost from the outset. 
In any case the sailors' view of him admits of no dispute ; 
for he was one of the three colonels whose presence as 
captains in the fleet had led to the recent mutiny, and 
his ship, the ' Swallow,' like Eainsborough's own, had 
remained with the Prince of Wales and was now with 
Eupert. Again, in the case of Colonel Richard Deane, 
although, being the nephew of a city merchant, he is said 
to have made trading voyages as a young man, through- 
out the civil wars he had served as a soldier, and had 
acquired the highest reputation as an artillery oflicer. 
At Preston too he had shown real tactical ability when in 
command of the right wing of Cromwell's victorious army. 
The third case is the most remarkable of all, and 
it brings us to the name which was to the navy of the 
seventeenth century what Drake's had been to that of the 
sixteenth, and with which the reappearance of England 
in the Mediterranean is indissolubly associated. It is 
Robert Blake that tradition has always acclaimed as the 
master spirit of the Cromwellian navy, and modern 
research has only confirmed his place. Many achieve- 
ments with which he was credited have, it is true, been 
found to be exaggerated, and some even without founda- 
tion. But this only serves to reveal how profound was 
the impressicn of his work. Legends grew up about his 
name as they grew up about Drake's ; but, shatter them 
as we will, they still serve the more strongly to reveal 
to us how great was the place each held for the men 
of his age. Though Blake was no professional soldier 
like Skippon and Leslie and Monk, there was nothing 
in his career to make him a seaman, except possibly, as 
in Deane's case, a few trading voyages in his youth. 
Till the age of twenty-six he had been a scholar at 
Oxford, and then, having failed to obtain a fellowship, 
he returned to Bridgewater, his native town, where his 
family were merchants. For five or six years ' in his 


youth ' he lived at Schiedam in Holland, and while there 
seems to have become acquainted with Tromp. It may- 
well have been that he went there as agent for the family 
business.^ At the outbreak of the war he appears to 
have attached himself to Popham, and when Bristol 
surrendered to Kupert in 1643 he was already lieutenant- 
colonel of Popham' s regiment. Here it was he first 
became prominent by refusing for twenty-four hours to 
give up the outwork he commanded, vowing it was not 
included in the capitulation, and that he could still hold 
it. The following year he was the moving spirit of the 
defence of Lyme in Dorsetshire, when for a month, with 
a garrison of five hundred men, it held out against all 
Prmce Maurice's army till the place was relieved, and so 
frustrated the Royalist strategy in the west. Then he 
held Taunton, a barely defensible place, for a whole year, 
and again paralysed the Royalist action in Devon and 
Cornwall. In the second civil war his name appears in 
no prominent position, and he was mentioned in cavalier 
circles as a man who had not received his due reward, 
and therefore was worth watching. The reason of his 
sudden elevation to the head of the navy is still a 
mystery, unless during the recent time of acute anxiety 
he had done something, of which nothing is known, 
to prevent a Royalist outbreak in the west. The credit 
of his selection is probably due to the man who first 
recognised his talents. Popham, by reason of his 
previous experience, was, of all the men whom the new 
Government could trust, the one most confidently looked 
to in naval affairs, and his request to have his old lieu- 
tenant-colonel for a colleague would probably have been 
enough to secure Blake's appointment. 

Still, no one was more surprised at his sudden eleva- 
tion than Blake himself, and one man at least thought 
his talents were thrown away at sea. Barely six months 
after he had entered on his new duties, and while he 
was actually blockading Rupert on the Munster coast, 
Cromwell, who had just landed in Ireland and was face 
to face with the enormous difficulties of his task, applied 

' Gardiner, Dutch War, pp. 217, 402. 

168 THE NEW NAVY 1649 

for him to be his major-general.^ No higher compHment 
could have been paid to his soldiership. It was an office 
which, as corresponding to a modern chief of the staff, 
was usually reserved for professional soldiers of the ripest 
experience. But Blake was already wedded to his new 
career, and in his bulldog way had no mind to loosen 
his teeth on the prey he was watching. So soon as he 
heard of it he wrote off to Popham begging him to get 
the application withdrawn. ' It was a strange surprise,' 
he said, ' greater even than that of my present employment, 
which, although it was extremely beyond my expectations 
as well as merits, I was soon able to resolve upon by 
your counsel and friendship.' He even intimated that, 
anxious as he was to serve the Parliament, he would 
retire into private life rather than submit to be taken 
from the sea. ' I desire,' he concluded, ' to serve the 
Parliament in anything I can, so I shall account it an 
especial happiness to be able to serve them in that con- 
junction [in] which they have already placed me. If they 
please otherwise to resolve I shall be content with a 
great deal more cheerfulness to lay down the command 
than I took it up, and in private to contribute the 
devoutest performances of my soul for their honour and 
prosperity.' ^ After this letter no more was heard of 
Cromwell's appHcation. The place w^as given to Ireton, 
and the three colonels remained to bend the navy in 
shape with their own ideas. 

It must not of course be concluded that the installa- 
tion of these men was not mainly for a political end. 
The desire to secure the navy undoubtedly came before 
the intention of reforming it. But the one was so in- 
evitably the outcome of the other that the Government 
of the Commonwealth must be taken to have intended 
what the new appointments achieved. Their primary 
intention was to see the navy in hands they could trust ; 

' Cromwell landed August 15. The application was known to Deane in 
Dublin on August 23. See Deane to Popham, Leyhoiirne-Popham MSS. 
{Hist MSS. Com.) p. 34. 

2 Col. Kobert Blake to Col. Edward Popham, September 16, 1649, 
Leybourne-Popham MSS. {Hist. MSS. Com.) p. 38, 


but it is no less certain that they intended that these 
same hands should infuse into the sea service the same 
spirit and the same science which had secured them the 
devotion and the triumphs of the army. Time and 
reflection only deepened the lines they had begun to 
trace. In March the following year the Council of State 
delegated their Admiralty work to a committee of seven of 
their number. Continuity was secured in the presidency of 
Sir Henry Vane, who had been the Parliamentary Treasurer 
of the Navy ; but of the other six members four, including 
Popham, were colonels, and thus the soldiers were in a 
majority. At the same time, while the seamen were 
conciliated by an increase of pay, more military officers 
were given ships for the summer fleet. 

In the following month we get a further insight into 
the feeling that prevailed, in the announcement that ' on 
April 9 the Lord General (Fairfax), Lord President 
(Bradshaw), and Mr. Speaker, with many members of 
Parliament and officers of the army, went to Deptford to 
see the launching of the two frigates.' These w^ere the 
latest vessels of the new type, the one of 60 guns named 
the ' Fairfax,' and the other of 42 called the ' President.' A 
third frigate of 64 guns was launched the same year and 
named the 'Speaker.' Besides these vessels two other 
large ones, the ' Constant Warwick ' and the ' Guinea,' 
had been bought into the fleet. Substantial as this increase 
of force was, it w^as but the firstfruits of the new policy. 
During this and the following year no fewer than twenty- 
one new vessels w^ere built or bought, besides thirteen 
prizes that were added to the Navy List. Such w^holesale 
addition to the permanent force of the nation was without 
precedent and marks the beginning of a momentous 
change which is attributed mainly to Blake, but of which 
Popham was perhaps the true father. 

It was an age of standing armies, and the new conti- 
nental idea of military organisation which Charles had tried 
to graft upon the navy was now established by the men who 
had opposed him. In his ship-money fleets Charles had en- 
deavoured to create a real standing navy. Up to this time, 
as we know, the naval defence of the kingdom had largely 

170 THE NEW NAVY 1650 

rested on what was really a naval militia centred on a 
small permanent nucleus. The navy of England w^as the 
w^hole of its shipping, the royal navy only that part of 
it which belonged to the King. In the Armada campaign 
the Elizabethans had seen w^ell enough the weakness of 
the system, and as the war continued year after year 
it was seen to hamper trade for no adequate return in 
fighting strength. Its inexpediency was as clearly 
marked as its impotence, but the country was not then 
ripe or rich enough for a change. It was the great 
work of Blake and his colleagues that they succeeded in 
effecting what Elizabeth had not ventured to attempt, 
and Charles had ruined himself to achieve. In these 
unprecedented increases to the fleet we have the begin- 
ning of the modern standing navy, the expression of the 
idea that the bulk of the national force upon the sea must 
be a permanent force. It was the natural outcome of the 
soldiers' administration. To them the laxity and disorder 
of the bastard fleets of the old days were unendurable. 
Again and again they had tried to introduce some kind of 
organisation which would enable a fleet to be handled 
with something like the precision of an army, but they 
had always failed, partly because they tried too much, 
but mainly because the merchantmen could not be got to 
obey or even see the sense of the new orders that were 
issued. As armies became, as they had done in recent 
years, more mobile and precise in their movements, the 
condition of things at sea became more and more unendur- 
able to soldiers who had to do with fleets. To the men of 
the New Model — at that hour undoubtedly the last expres- 
sion of the military art in Europe — it was impossible, and 
it was only by creating a naval force akin to that which 
they had perfected ashore that they could hope to teach 
the seamen the lesson they were so slow to learn and so 
sorely needed. 

Thus it was that the definite and final appearance of 
England as a naval power in the Mediterranean coincided 
exactly with the final change in her naval system ; and 
thus too it was that when the nations of Europe were 
looking askance, but as yet with no great anxiety, at the 


new military state, they were suddenly awakened to the 
disturbing fact that it had a navy no less formidable than 
the army at which every one was gaping. 

Along with the larger movement of the transition 
went certain minor changes that left their mark. With 
the first attempts to create a real standing navy a new 
system for the classification of ships was introduced, and 
with the ship-money fleets appears the germ of the 
modern system of rating. A Kavy List showing the fleet 
divided into six rates exists as early as 1641 ; but, from 
a list ten years later, it does not appear that the classi- 
fication was made on any very definite principle. The most 
constant factor is the number of the crew required to 
work the ship, and this was no doubt a good rough and 
ready measure of her relative importance, especially as 
crews were supposed to bear a general relation to tonnage. 
There were then only three first rates of from 60 to 100 
guns. The second rates had crews of from 280 to 360 
men and about 50 guns. Third rates had about 180 men 
and 40 to 50 guns. The fourth rates, a very large class, 
ran mostly from 120 to 150 men and 80 to 40 guns. In 
the fifth class no vessel had 100 men or over 24 guns. 
The sixth class included small fry of the old pinnace type, 
ketches, shallops and the like. Their complement w^as 
usually from 30 to 50 men. ' Frigates ' appear in all the 
classes except the first. 

Four years later — in 1655 — a fresh classification was 
attempted, in which, owing to the increased scale of build- 
ing, several of the old ships were degraded a rate. At the 
same time the first step was taken to give the rates a 
definite relation to guns, and a regular ' establishment ' was 
laid down, though not very strictly adhered to. Thus 
first rates were assigned 91 guns, second rates 64, third 
rates 50, fourth rates 38, fifth rates 22, and sixth rates 8. 

Another noticeable change was the entire disappearance 
of the secondary armament of small quick-firing, breech- 
loading guns, which had held their place throughout the 
Tudor period. Xo clear explanation of their obsolescence 
is to be found, but there is little doubt that it was the 
natural outcome of the revolution in naval tactics esta- 

172 THE NEW NAVY 1651 

blished by the Elizabethans. They had hfted gun-fire to 
the first place, and, as boarding grew less and less in 
favour, the secondary armament, which was designed to 
clear for boarding or to repel boarders, fell with it. The 
same views led to the gradual diminution of superstruc- 
tures, and in frigates to their entire disappearance in order 
to attain handiness in manoeuvring for fire advantage ; and 
with the disappearance of superstructures the secondary 
armament, which was mainly designed to defend them 
when a ship was entered, must also have inclined to 
disappear. The danger attending their use in the heat of 
action and the introduction of hand grenades may also 
have had something to do with it, no less than the increas- 
ing handiness and rapidity of fire of muzzle-loading guns. 
The English founders devised means of casting pieces 
lighter than had been the custom without decreasing their 
power. Indeed English ordnance and gunnery continued 
to hold their pre-eminence. The Dutch admiral De With, 
after his first action with Blake in 1652, could write, ' We 
found that the guns on their smallest frigates carry further 
than our heaviest cannons ; and the English, I am sure, 
fired smarter and quicker than did many of ours.' ^ Such 
a startling statement must of course be discounted by 
remembering that De With was trying to get the States 
to improve his fleet ; but there can b3 little doubt, after 
all allowances are made, that the navy of the Common- 
weal th was launched upon the Mediterranean in a state 
of general smartness and efficiency that had never been 

' Gardiner, First Dutch Wcu- {Navy Records Society), ii. 360. 



The impulse which finally guided England back into the 
Mediterranean was very remarkable. It was like the 
finger of destiny — the outcome of hostile machinations for 
which no such end could have been foreseen. It was a 
pious belief of the old herbalists that beside every poison- 
ous weed there might be found growing a balm that was 
its antidote, and so it was that nature now seemed to 
deal with England. 

From the same point — midway in the seventeenth 
century — which saw the transformation of the English 
navy, dates also a transformation in her foreign relations. 
The execution of the King may be said to have given a 
new colour to continental politics, at least so far as Great 
Britain was concerned. Their mainsprino: thenceforth 
for a century to come was the fortunes of the Stuart 
family. Great Britain appeared in the eyes of continental 
statesmen to be open to the same kind of action that they 
had been using so freely everywhere else, the same to 
which the Dutch were exposed by the differences between 
the Orange and the Republican parties, the same which 
France had been using against the Spanish Empire in 
Catalonia, Portugal, and the Two Sicilies, and the same 
which Spain was now paying back to France by her en- 
couragement of the Fronde. It was a source of weakness 
to which the English Government had been a stranger 
since the execution of Mary Stuart, and its reappearance 
at this moment was the most serious menace to the posi- 
tion of the new military state. It was new poison, and its 
effects might have been extremely grave had not the anti- 
dote been found springing up beside it. As it was, the 


very first effort to use the new form of attack was the 
means of bringing the threatened power immediately to 
the true method of meeting it. It was the fitting out of 
Rupert's squadron at Helvoetshiys and the encouragement 
which the new maritime war received from foreign powers 
that directly led to the reappearance of England in the 

After escaping the winter guard, Eupert and his 
brother proceeded direct to the coast of Munster, which 
from the days when Drake lay hid there, and long before, 
had been a kind of sanctuary for sea rovers like themselves. 
They were seriously under-manned ; but there, if any- 
where, they could hope to fill up with men of the right 
stamp, and with this object the Princes established them- 
selves at Kinsale. At first the English Government did 
not take the matter very seriously. It was left to 
Ayscue and Penn, the admirals on the Irish station, to 
deal with. But their force soon proved inadequate. In 
February the Prince was reported at Bristol to have 
twenty-eight sail and to be rendering the adjacent seas 
wholly unsafe for commerce. It is true Ayscue' s captains 
made several captures, including two of Rupert's smartest 
frigates. But Ireland w^as almost lost to the Common- 
wealth. Here and there her officers, like Coote, Jones, 
and Monk, were clinging to seaports till Cromwell could 
come to the rescue, and the Irish squadron could not watch 
the Princes and at the same time afford the desperate 
garrisons the relief they wanted. Moreover, Cromwell 
intended to land his army in Munster, and for that the 
command of the seas must be recovered. The serious 
news of Rupert's growing strength, which had come in 
from Bristol, was followed in a week by the appointment 
of Popham, Blake, and Deane to command the fleet, and 
their first service was that all three of them were ordered 
to sea to deal with the pirate Princes. 

It was no more than the situation seemed to demand. 
Mazarin, with his eye set on the establishment of absolute 
monarchy in France, dreaded the infection of Republican- 
ism as much as in Elizabethan times Philip II. had dreaded 
the infection of heresy. The Cardinal declared that the 


cause of the Stuarts was the cause of all kings ; he was 
hoping for a coalition to restore the exiled dynasty, and, 
so far as his own necessities would permit, was furthering 
the growth of the Stuart cause at sea. With the English 
Government the sense of danger was emphasised by a 
curious warning which seems to have had its weight. An 
old prophecy which was said to have been deposited in 
Trinity College, Cambridge, during Ehzabeth's reign was 
brought to light. After foretelling the leading events of 
European history during the Thirty Years' War and down 
to the fall of the Stuarts, it declared that another Charles 
would arise, who would appear with a mighty navy on 
the shores of his father's kmgdom and recover it by the 
aid of Denmark, Sweden, Holland, and France. Now it 
happened that these weve the very powers of which 
Mazarin hoped to compose his coalition so soon as his hands 
were free from the Spanish war ; and though the coinci- 
dence throws doubt on the genuineness of the prophecy, it 
must have added to its moral effect. • It is not surprising 
therefore to find the Council of State addressing to their 
Generals, on the eve of sailing, a serious exhortation that 
Rupert's fleet must be destroyed. It would avail little, 
they said, that they kept the seas clear during the 
summer with the large force which had been placed at 
their command. The prestige of the republic depended 
on the Prince's force being utterly shattered so that he 
could not boast he had maintained himself in the face of 
the whole navy of the Commonwealth.^ 

Having caught Eupert in Kinsale, the Generals 
blockaded him there and resolved to order Popham home 
at once, as they were strong enough without him. There 
during the whole summer Blake and Deane kept the re- 
volted ships, and snapped up a number of others which 
they caught cruising with a Stuart commission. No at- 
tempt, however, was made to destroy Eupert's fleet in the 

* ' The prophecy of Paukis Grebnerus,' Domestic Calendar, May 1649. 
Mazarin's Letters [Documents InMits), iii. 225, 339 ; and cf. Deane to 
Popham, Lcybourne- Popham MSS. Aug. 23, 1G49. 

'^ Council of State to the Generals at Sea, May 19, 1G49, Domestic 
Calendar, p. 150. 


harbour, as Leveson had destroyed the Spaniards in Castle- 
haven fifty years before ; but this was probably due to the 
powerful works with which the harbour had been fortified 
since that time, and in any case the sound strategy of the 
moment was to preserve the fleet in being, and so prevent 
any communication between Munster and the continent 
till Cromwell's work in Ireland was done. The last con- 
sideration is probably the explanation of the Generals' 
apparent lack of enterprise, for Blake at least was ere 
long to show how little he feared harbour defences. As 
all the ports of Munster had to be watched as well as 
Kinsale, there was work enough for the fleet without 
risking anything, and it is significant that it was the 
Generals at Sea who most strongly urged that Cromwell 
should strike south first, in order to reduce the ports and 
so reheve the almost intolerable pressure on the fleet. 
So convincing indeed were their arguments that it was 
only through a series of accidents that Ireton was not 
detached to Munster from Milford Haven with a wing 
of the Lord General's army.^ 

By midsummer the blockading fleet was in so serious 
a condition that Deane had to be sent away with part of it 
to recruit, and Blake was left alone. For three months 
more he hung on, refusing, as we have seen, every induce- 
ment to let go his prey, till with the approach of the 
equinox he found it necessary to send home his largest 
vessels. Shifting his flag to a third-rate, he still held his 
ground, watching anxiously for Cromwell, whose victorious 
army was already pressing southward. His task was now 
doubly difficult. As the pressure from the north made 
Kupert's position every day less secure, so the boisterous 
weather rendered the blockade more difficult, till some 
time about the last week in October a gale forced the 
blockading squadron to stand off to sea, and by the time 
it could gather again Kupert had flown. ^ 

' Deane to Popham, July 3, 1649, Lcyhourne-Popham MSS. {Hist. 
MSS. Com.) p. 19 ; same to same, Sept. 22, ibid. p. 40 ; cf. Ormonde 3ISS. 
July 10, ii. 99-102. 

^ The exact date of his escape is not certain. Heath's Chronicle (p. 254) 
gives it as October 24, but the Council of State in London knew of it 


Seven vessels were all he could carry out. The rest he 
was unable either to man or to equip, and he had to leave 
them laid up to fall into Cromwell's hands. Bat his little 
fleet still included the revolted navy ships that were left 
to him, and, with Scilly for a base, he was still dangerous. 
He had told the royal exiles some months before that, 
even if he were forced from Kinsale, he doubted not, as he 
wrote, * ere long to see Scilly a second Venice . . . where 
after a little we may get the King a good subsistence, 
and I believe we shall make shift to live in spite of all 
factions.' ^ The Council of State were not a little anxious. 
The Canary merchantmen were nearly due in the Channel, 
and if Kupert caught them he would have a new fleet at 
a stroke, besides the rich spoil. He was actually reported 
to be lying off the Laud's End waiting for them, but 
as a matter of fact he knew the activity of the Generals 
had made the Narrow Seas too hot to hold him, and 
he had borne away out into the ocean. For a month 
he was lost sight of, but on December 1 came news 
that he was capturing English merchantmen off the 
coast of Spain, and the Generals at Sea immediately 
received an order to fit out a squadron of ten sail to hunt 
him away. And so was set on foot the fieet that was 
once more to carry the English flag into the Mediter- 

The commander that would naturally have been chosen 
was * Black ' Deane, as he was called, the junior of the 
three Generals. The outlook at the time was so serious 
that it was natural to wish to keep the senior ones at 
home. The news was that Eupert was off Cadiz, negoti- 
ating for permission to sell his prizes m Spanish ports and 
use them as he wished. Both in the Spanish Netherlands 
and in France similar permission had been granted to 
Stuart privateers, and there was every chance that Rupert 
would succeed in his desire. As no foreign Government 
had yet recognised the Republic, negotiations were im- 

on October 27, Domestic Calendar, p. 366. On October 2 they had heard 
that three of his vessels had escaped in a storm, but it was not certain that 
lUipert was with them, Leyhourne-Popham MSS. p. 43. 
' Warburton, iii. 220. 
I. N 


possible. France was even claiming to treat British 
commerce as pirate goods, that were fair game for 
every man, and relations in consequence had grown so 
severely strained that war was looked for at any moment. 
As it happened, Deane was ill. But there was no time to 
he lost. Blake was in the west, on his way from Ireland, 
and the Council of State, without consulting any one, 
ordered him to proceed straight to Portsmouth and take 
up the command without coming to London. At the 
same time the Trinity House was ordered to furnish sail- 
ing directions for the Mediterranean, and bills were to be 
prepared on Leghorn and other places to provide the fleet 
with money. ^ 

Clearly a demonstration in the Mediterranean was 
intended if the chase should lead thither. The prepara- 
tions were pushed on with unj)recedented vigour, and 
grew as they proceeded. On January 10, 1650, a captain 
who had been watching the French coast reported to 
Popham a great naval activity. Every one said it was to 
reinforce Eupert, and the anxious officer begged his chief 
not to let the fleet that was ordered ' for the Straits ' to 
go forth ill-manned. The Secretary of the Admiralty at 
the same time assured Popham that his only fear was 
that the fleet was too weak to enter the Straits, and that 
it was to be doubled. The fact was that Mazarin had 
taken alarm. Bordeaux was in rebellion ; he was 
blockading it from the sea ; and he had been informed 
that the English preparations against Eupert were really 
intended for its relief.^ 

It was but natural that Mazarin should expect from 
the men he so deeply despised a repetition of the idle 
strategy of Buckingham's war. So obvious was the move 
that we can only wonder at the brilliance of the new 
spirit that was infusing English policy. In spite of news 
of further naval preparations in Ostend and elsewhere, 
which might seem to be the beginning of the prophesied 

• Dormstic Calendar, 424-425, 489. 

' Captain Keyser to Popham, January 10, 1650 ; Coytmor to Popham 
and Blaxe, January 12, Leyboicnie-Popham MSS. 54. Mazarin to the 
Due d'Epernon, Lettres, iii. 432. 


coalition, neither the Government nor the Generals were 
to be turned from the true objective. First and foremost 
it was Kupert's fleet, and then the Mediterranean. Since 
it had become known that it was in a Portuguese and not 
a Spanish port that Kupert had been received, the latter 
object became even more remote. Blake was to be hurried 
to Lisbon immediately with such ships as could be got 
ready, and Popham was to follow in the spring with a 
reserve and the bills on Leghorn. There was a possi- 
bility that the demonstration in the Mediterranean would 
not be necessary, for Spain was already opening her eyes 
to the value of an alliance with the Republic as an enemy 
of France and Portugal, and Blake was to carry out an 
envoy to Madrid. When in February he got to sea his 
instructions were mainly concerned with directions to deal 
with the Princes and their * revolted ships,' and with those 
of any commander, no matter what his commission, who 
attempted to join them. 

Meanwhile Eupert at Lisbon had been as active. 
With the produce of his captured cargoes he had managed 
to thoroughly equip not only his old fleet but also his 
three prizes, and he had already dropped down the Tagus 
as far as Belem Castle to start on a fresh cruise when 
Blake's fleet was seen anchoring just outside in Cascaes 
Bay. At the last moment the younger Vane had joined 
the fleet as envoy to the King of Portugal, and he was 
immediately landed with the Parliament's letter explain- 
ing that Blake had been sent out to recover their revolted 
warships and punish the pirates who had taken them. 
He was followed by the heutenant of Blake's flagship 
with a friendly message pointing out that it was clearly 
a special providence that the two arch-pirates had been 
detained at Lisbon till his squadron had arrived, and he 
trusted, therefore, the King would excuse any hostile 
attempt that might be made upon them in the harbour, 
as there was no other way of making it. It would seem 
that in this spirit Blake actually made an attempt to 
enter the river. But as the finger of Providence was not 
so clear to the King of Portugal as it was to the Common- 
wealth admiral, warning guns from the batteries forced 

N 2 


him to return to his anchorage and proceed with the 

On March 18, about a week after Blake's arrival, Vane 
succeeded in making a preliminary agreement, by which, 
in case of bad weather, Blake was to be permitted to enter 
the river and anchor in Oeiras Bay — the road w^hich lies 
between the outer defences of St. Julian's Castle and the 
inner at Belem. But no hostilities were to take place, 
and he was to retire outside again so soon as the weather 
permitted. This of course would never do, and a few 
days later Blake sent in his vice-admiral to demand either 
the restitution of the revolted ships or permission to seize 
them by force where they lay, or in the alternative a 
peremptory order for both fleets to leave the harbour at 
the same time. If all these proposals were refused he was 
to demand liberty of the port in accordance with subsisting 

Meanwhile, however, an accredited envoy had arrived 
from Charles II., and, in pursuance of the same treaties, 
was making demands in the opposite sense, and requesting 
the King to refuse all recognition of the Commonwealth.' 
For all parties it was a situation of extreme difficulty. 
The King could not make up his mind, and Blake 
had no real authority, even if he had the power to force 
his hand. It looked like another long summer blockade 
with the additional danger that any day a French or 
some other foreign squadron might appear to join hands 
with Eupert. This was what the EngHsh Government 
chiefly feared, and they w^ere stirring every nerve to get 
the second division out, with Popham in person at its head, 
and with such instructions as would leave no room for 
hesitation. Still it was not till the middle of April that 
he could hoist his flag, and a month more before he finally 
cleared the Channel with the * Resolution,' a first rate, one 
second rate, two fourth rates, and four powerful armed 
merchantmen. 2 

' Thomas Elyott to John IV. of Portugal, March 19 (n.s.), 1650, Hodgkin 
MSS. {Hist. MSS. Com. xv. ii.) p. 120. 

^ Popham's Journal of the voyage is in the Leyhourne-Pojpliam MSS. 
p. 61 et seq. 


The result of these provoking delays was that what 
was feared had happened; Two French men-of-war, of 
50 and 28 guns, had appeared off Lisbon to join the 
Princes, but their captains mistook the English fleet for 
Kupert's, and Blake was able quietly to take possession 
of them. Still as yet he had no authority to make 
reprisals on the French, and when the King demanded 
the release of the vessels he felt bound to let them go 
free. It was not till they had joined Kupert that 
Blake heard tliat the Portuguese Court had finally 
made up its mind to stand with the Royalists. Then 
he did not hesitate to act. On May 16, as Popham was 
clearing the Channel on his way south, the annual Brazil 
fleet, consisting of eighteen sail, came out of the Tagus. 
He had no definite instruction to seize Portuguese ships ; 
but nine of them were English chartered for the voyage, 
and as a British admiral he had the usual authority to 
compel the services of all English ships he met. The 
nine vessels were therefore stayed, and with the ready 
consent of the crews he added them to his force. 

Ten days later Popham stood into Cascaes Bay and 
showed Blake the additional instructions he had brought. 
By these the admirals were authorised to attack the 
Princes wherever they found them. If the King of 
Portugal offered any objection, they were to make reprisals 
on all Portuguese ships, and they were further expressly 
directed to make general reprisals on the subjects and 
ships of the French King. This was tantamount to the 
declaration of a naval war with both Portugal and France, 
and as the force at the Generals' disposal now consisted 
of about twenty navy ships and over a dozen armed 
merchantmen, they were quite in a position to make them- 
selves felt. 

To the King of Spain the situation was eminently 
satisfactory. The whole of his naval force that could be 
spared from its ordinary duties was being concentrated 
at Palermo under Don John of Austria for the recovery 
of the places which the French had seized in Tuscany, 
and nothing could suit him better than to see England 
drawn into a naval war with his two hereditary enemies. 


Though he still delayed his recognition of the Common- 
wealth, Ascham, its diplomatic agent, had been received 
at Cadiz with marked respect, and the Koyalist envoys 
with coldness. This clearing of the diplomatic air was, 
however, suddenly checked. Ascham reached Madrid the 
very day Popham cast anchor in Cascaes Bay, and on the 
morrow he was brutally murdered at his inn by some 
cavalier swashbucklers. This outrage was of course un- 
known to the Generals; but before taking any hostile 
step against the Portuguese they decided it was better 
to send for Vane and provide for his safety. He came 
to the fleet, and as soon as he saw what the Parliament's 
new instructions were, he determined not to return. 
Thereupon a formal demand for the revolted ships was 
sent in by Blake's lieutenant, and four days were given 
for an answer, so imperious had the note of the Kepublic 
become. The time passed without any reply, and when 
at last it came it was so unsatisfactory that the Generals 
resolved to begin operations. 

Blake's original division by this time was very short 
of water and beverage, and a small French squadron was 
reported to be hovering about Cadiz, seeking for an oppor- 
tunity of joining Kupert. As a first step, therefore, he 
transferred his flag to Popham's ship and sent his own, 
the ' George,' with seven more of his squadron to the 
southward. They were placed under the command of his 
rear-admiral, Kichard Badiley, a seaman officer of whom 
a great deal more w^as to be heard, with instructions to 
cruise for the Frenchmen and, after deahng with them, 
to procure from Cadiz all that was wanted.^ Another 
frigate was detached to watch to the northward and 
water at the Burlings, while the 'Constant Warwick' 
was sent home with Vane to report to the Government. 
At the same time reprisals were commenced by seizing 
all the fishing boats w^ithin reach, and some of these 
were armed for inshore work. The main squadron that 
was left off Lisbon, thus reduced, consisted chiefly of 

' Gardiner's First Dutch War, i. 2, and Leyhourne-Popliam MSS. 
p. 67. 


merchantmen, and with it the Generals settled down to 
the blockade. 

Though a few small vessels got through, it proved 
very effective, and the only warship that attempted to run 
in was captured. Still all June passed away, Badiley's 
squadron did not return, and drink got lower and lower. 
Information too was received that the King of Portugal 
was making extensive naval preparations in order to 
join Kupert in driving the Enghsh off. The rest of 
Blake's old division had to be sent north for water, and 
the situation was growing critical. It was not till the 
middle of July that one of the frigates rejoined from 
Cadiz. She had to report that they had found three 
ships of the French navy at anchor in Lagos Bay. By 
promptly cutting their cables and being clean, two had 
escaped, but the third of 36 guns was brought to 
action by the 'i^dventure,' a ship of equal force, and after 
a long engagement forced to surrender. So hard was the 
fight, and so heavy the EngHsh fire, that she went down 
two hours after striking.^ As for the rest of Badiley's 
squadron, the Generals were assured they would speedily 
rejoin with all that was wanted. It was none too soon. 
Four more days passed, and still the wind hung in the 
north and kept the longed-for vessels away. To make 
matters worse a number of ships were seen dropping down 
from Lisbon, till, by the 22nd, more than a score were lying 
at anchor in Oeiras Bay, and still there was no sign of the 
missing squadron. Truly might the Generals say, as they 
wrote home to the Council of State, 'It hath pleased God 
in this place to exercise us with various and mixed provi- 
dences.' Four more days passed without any news of 
Badiley's ships, nor had any sign of them appeared when 

' An account of the action is in Gibson's 'Reminiscences' (Gardiner's 
First Dutch War, i. 2). As an indication of the English methods of 
relying on gun fire, it may be noted that ' the " Adventure " men called on 
their captain to board the French ship, which he denied until he could see 
the blood run out of their scuppers.' Gibson says there were four ships, 
and he is borne out by Gentillot's ' Draft Instructions ' (Guizot, Hist, do la 
Bipuhliciiie Anglaisc, I. app. xvii.). It is there stated that the captain of 
the captured ship was the Chevalier de Fonteny, and that he was ' tue 
reellement apr^s la prise.' Possibly, however, this refers to another case 
See a similar story, post, p. 189, note. 


the morning of the 26th broke with a fair wind off the 
shore and Kupert was seen coming out. Twenty-six 
ships and eighteen caravels could be counted, and against 
these the Generals had only ten sail to show besides the 
requisitioned Brazil vessels. But they did not hesitate a 
moment. The largest of the French ships was leading 
w^ith four fire-ships, and about a mile astern of them came 
the ' Constant Reformation,' the Prince's flagship. To 
avoid the fire-ships the Generals weighed immediately and 
stood off to sea, but as soon as a reasonable offing was 
obtained they lay to and waited. Still the enemy had 
the wind and held on ; but presently it shifted a bit to 
the southward. The blockading fleet immediately filled 
away, and, having with a short tack secured the weather 
gage, made a dash in to cut off the leading ships. But 
the moment the enemy saw they had lost the windward 
position they drew back, and were soon standmg in again 
on their course with the Generals in full chase. A few 
shots were exchanged, but that was all, and as night fell 
the Princes were safe again under the Portuguese guns. 

For both sides it w^as a disappointment. Rupert had 
failed to get out and the Generals had failed to bring him 
to action. The blockaders had been perhaps too eager, 
and next morning, when the attempt was renewed in a 
dense fog, the Generals stood off as soon as they discovered 
the Prince's purpose. In vain they lay to, and let him 
get dead to weather of them, hoping thus to induce him 
to attack ; but again the day passed away without result. 
The Generals were now getting desperate. They had 
but four days' drink left, and could not hold on much 
longer. But, as the evening closed in, the situation 
changed. Seven sail were seen in the offing, and, in grave 
anxiety lest they meant the long-feared relief from France, 
the Generals stood out to meet them. They proved to be 
Badiley's missing division from Cadiz, and at dajdight they 
joined. During the morning every captain had all he 
needed in abundance, and the whole fleet stood in to 
attack. But the wind held stubbornly to the eastward 
and every effort was unavailing. That night, however, 
they anchored close in with cables short-hauled, hoping 


to surprise their enemy in the morning ; but when day 
broke there was not a sail to be seen. Eupert had aban- 
doned his attempt to escape, and the weary blockade had 
to begin again. 

Not for another month were the Princes able to re- 
new their attempt. It was in the first week of Septem- 
ber. Blake was alone plying off the Eock of Lisbon 
with only ten sail. The Brazil merchantmen had been 
sent home as no longer able to keep the sea. Most of 
the other ships had just gone with Popham to refit at 
Cadiz. ^ The moming of the 7th was again foggy, but 
about eleven o'clock Blake was aware that the Portuguese 
fleet and part of Eupert's were putting to sea. Then it 
would seem he lost them again ; but about four in the 
afternoon the fog cleared, and he found himself, with only 
two frigates in company, close to the whole of the hostile 
fleet, numbering thirty-six sail, with Eupert leading. It 
was a perilous position, but * by God's good providence,' 
as Blake wrote, the enemy were to leeward of him. 
Without any hesitation at the overwhelming disparity of 
numbers, the General bore down to engage the Prince's 
ship. Eupert was nothing loath, and, having given orders 
to reserve his fire, held on to close in silence. So at last 
the two antagonists were at arm's length. Neither would 
give way ; but Blake's master pointed out that, holding 
as they were, it was very doubtful if they could weather 
the Prince. * Can you stem him ? ' — that is ' ram ' him — 
asked the General. ' Yes,' said the master, 'but then we 
shall hazard both ships.' * I'll run that hazard,' Blake 
answered, ' rather than bear up for the enemy ; ' and they 
held on. 2 Seeing a collision was inevitable, Eupert gave 
way, and as he bore up Blake, who could trust his gunners 
better than the Prince, let fly. So just was his aim that 
Eupert's fore-topmast came crashing down at the cap. 
Hopelessly disabled for the moment, the Prince was forced 

• The absence of Popham is to be inferred from the fact that his flag- 
ship was one of the vessels detached, and that Blake alone signed the 
despatch relating to the incident. Hist. MSS. Com. xiii. i. 536. 

- Gibson's' Eeminiscences ' in Gardiner's 7)u/c/i TFar, i. 13. Blake to the 
Council of State, October 14, 1G50, Hist. MSS. Com. xiii. i. 536. 


to bear up into the shelter of the Portuguese fleet, and as 
he did so the fog closed down again, and Blake very 
wisely bore away to get touch with the rest of his ships. 
It was not till next morning that he found them, and 
then it was known that once more the Princes had been 
forced to withdraw into the Tagus. It was practically 
the end of the blockade, and that rift in the mist was 
the only chance the two opposing admirals ever had of 
looking into the muzzles of each other's guns. 

At so late a period of the year it was hopeless to think 
of destroying Eupert as he was. But a more effective 
method of dealing with the situation was at hand. The 
homeward bound fleet from Brazil was daily expected, 
and in its capture Blake saw a means of making the 
King of Portugal weary of his guest. A month before 
the home Government had suggested to the Generals the 
advisability of sending a squadron to intercept it at the 
Azores, but they had w^isely declined to divide their force. 
Their wisdom was now to be rewarded. A week after 
the encounter with Eupert the Brazil fleet, to the number 
of twenty-three sail, was sighted making for the Tagus. 
Blake gave chase, and after a three-homes' fight succeeded 
in destroying the vice-flagship and capturing the rear- 
admiral and six other vessels, with four thousand chests 
of sugar and four hundred prisoners. Having administered 
this sharp chastisement to the Portuguese Govern- 
ment, he carried his prizes into Cadiz and left the Tagus 

The reason of this move is nowhere given. Blake has 
been blamed for its consequences, but there w^as certainly 
much to be said for the course he took. The situation 
which the Commonwealth had to face when Blake began 
his campaign had entirely changed. Ireland had been 
reduced to submission ; Scotland had been paralysed by 
Cromwell's victory at Dunbar ; and the great Eoyalist 
reaction, which Eupert's fleet had been designed to sup- 
port from the sea, was well in hand without his having 
been able to give it any real assistance. Between them 
the Generals at Sea had been able to prevent any danger- 
ous concentration round his flag, and he was reduced to the 


position of a mere buccaneer. Whatever Blake's infor- 
mation may have been, he might justly have concluded 
that the King of Portugal would now be only too glad to 
get rid of so costly and discredited a guest, aid that the 
best chance of finally destroying him was to see him a 
friendless wanderer on the high seas. In British waters 
he could do no harm, for Popham was back there with 
his division ; and if he attempted to find ref age in the 
Mediterranean, Blake at Cadiz was in a position to 
chase with a practical certainty of success. Short there- 
fore of forcing the King of Portugal to deliver up his 
supplicant, a course he was most unlikely to take, Blake 
could not have done better than give him a chance of 
honourably getting rid of the Prince's presence. 

How lightly Blake regarded Kupert's force is clear from 
the dispositions he now made. Popham, as has been 
said, had already gone home to resume his duties in the 
Channel. Five more vessels, including his flagship, were 
now detached under Captain Badiley to escort home the 
Brazil prizes and a convoy of Levant merchantmen that 
had rendezvoused within the Straits at Malaga. Blake 
himself, with the seven ships that remained, resolved to 
stay out a month or more longer, contrary to all pre- 
cedent, ' to do the Commonwealth ' — so he wrote — ' all 
the service I can hereabout or elsewhere, as the providence 
of God shall direct me.' There can be no doubt he was 
thoroughly prepared for what followed. Shortly after 
the capture of the Brazil ships some kind of unofficial 
negotiations seem to have been commenced with the 
Court of Lisbon for a preliminary arrangement by which 
reprisals were to cease on condition that Eupert's fleet 
should no longer receive protection in Portuguese har- 
bours. The result of these overtures, according to 
Eoyalist authority, was that some time in September 
the Princes were formally requested to leave. ^ 

It was on October 12 that they put to sea with six 

sail, and for some days, as it would appear, they hung 

about off the Tagus looking for a Frenchman who was 

expected to join them. Blake at all events got no news 

' Warbujton^ iii. 313, 


of the movement. Not expecting his recent feat to have 
so immediate an effect, he v^as still in Cadiz busily 
cleaning his ships for the w^inter cruise. It was not till 
two days after Rupert had put to sea that Badiley's 
squadron started for home, and on the morrow a despatch 
vessel arrived from England which put Blake into im- 
mediate activity. What the message was that it brought 
is not certain, but there can be little doubt that it ordered 
him to turn his attention to active reprisals upon the 
French. Under cover of the exiled King's -flag they had 
continued to prey on the commerce of the Commonwealth 
in a manner that was scarcely removed from piracy. They 
had imprisoned her merchants and confiscated their goods. 
In vain the English Government had protested, and at 
last its patience was exhausted. It was not till the 
day the despatch vessel reached Blake that the Judges of 
the Admiralty reported, apparently in answer to French 
protests, that justice had been demanded in the French 
courts and had been refused, and that therefore general 
reprisals were perfectly lawful. Their decision was a 
foregone conclusion, and the Council of State could hardly 
have waited for it before letting Blake know what was 
coming. At all events, the moment he received the 
despatches he hoisted his flag in the * PhcBnix,' a fourth 
rate, and with three other frigates, which were all he had 
ready for sea, hurried out to take up a station in the 
Straits' mouth. Here, after a four days' cruise, he fell in 
with a French navy ship of 36 guns, under the com- 
mand of a certain Chevalier de la Lande. Deceived 
by seeing the Admiral's flag flying on the * Phoenix ' into 
believing himself overmatched, the Chevalier came aboard 
to surrender ; but, on seeing how weak the ship was, 
instead of delivering his sword he began to insinuate he 
had been trepanned into coming aboard. Therefore 
Blake, in a spirit of almost Quixotic chivalry more charac- 
teristic of an Elizabethan than a hard-headed Parlia- 
mentary officer, told the Frenchman to return to his ship 
and fight it out. He did so, but nothing could induce 
his crew to handle a gun, and finally he had to come 
aboard again and surrender his ship — *of such dread,' writes 


a seaman of the time, * was the EngHsh courage and sea 
conduct then.' ^ 

We may assume that this was the vessel that Rupert 
was looking for. It was certainly the object of Blake's 
move, and he immediately returned to Cadiz to pick up 
the rest of his ships and to add the prize to his squadron. 
No step could have been more unlucky. It was on 
October 20 that the Frenchman was captured, and a week 
later intelligence reached Blake at Cadiz that on the 
'26th Rupert had appeared at Malaga and attempted to 
destroy some English merchantmen in the harbour. 
While Blake's back was turned the Princes, having failed 
to find their French consort, had entered the Straits 
without her. It was their only chance. ' Being destitute 
of a port,' wrote one of their followers, ' we take the 
confines of the Mediterranean for our harbours, poverty 
and despair being companions, and revenge our guide.' 

In a moment Blake was on their heels. There was 
no time to get the prize ready, and it had to be left 
behind. With his other seven ships he reached Malaga 
on the 30th, and the same day was away again for Alicante. 
He had heard that Rupert had lawlessly burnt some 
Enghsh vessels in Velez Malaga, in spite of the Spanish 
protests, and had passed on.^ ' I intend,' he wrote home 

' This story, which was told shortly by Whitelocke, has been of late 
years dismissed by naval historians as utterly incredible, mainly because 
neither Blake nor his captain, Saltonstall, mentions it {Hist. MSS. Com. 
xiii. i. 538, 543). Blake merely says, ' After some dispute he yielded upon 
quarter.' But "Whitelocke's story is confirmed and explained by the 
recently discovered ' lleminiscences ' of Gibson (Dutch War, i. 7). The 
prize, which was brought into the navy as the ' Success,' was the 'Jules,' a 
vessel that had been serving before Bordeaux under the command of M. le 
Chevalier de la Lande (Jal, Dii Quesne, i. 182, and Gentillot's draft instruc- 
tions, Guizot, Hist, de la Rcpublique Anglaise, i. Ai^p. xvii. 405). Blake 
says he was ' brother to him that was sunk by the "Adventure" frigate.' 
These two brothers seem to have been among the most active French 
officers who had been preying on English commerce. The French have an 
incredible story that one of them, some time before this, had endeavoured 
to force an English squadron to lower their flags to his own, and, being 
captured for his temerity, was there and then beheaded for a pirate (Jal, 
op. cit. p. 187). The Chevalier is again mentioned in an unsavoury piece of 
intelligence work in Mazarin's Letters, iii. 701. 

2 The excuse which Bupert is said to have given for defying the port 
authorities was that he wanted to catch Captain Morley, ' one of the four 


under sail, ' God willing, to pursue as far as Providence 
shall direct.' He had clean freshly-victualled ships to his 
hand and had nothing to stop him. On November 2, 
after turning Cape Gata, he captured another Frenchman 
of twenty guns, and on the morrow, close to Cape Palos, 
he fell in with the ' Eoebuck ' of Kupert's squadron, and 
forced her to strike. The next night he chased two more 
of the Prince's vessels, w^ith two prizes in company, 
into Cartagena. The fact was that Rupert, finding the 
Governors of the Spanish ports were determined not to 
submit to his lawless depredations, had retired towards the 
Balearic islands, with the intention of cruising between 
the islands and the Spanish coast. While thus engaged 
he was overtaken by a gale that scattered his force, and 
some of them had stood in towards the coast, while he 
and his brother in the * Reformation ' and ' Swallow ' 
had held on for the rendezvous he had appointed in the 
almost deserted island of Formentara. There, under a 
stone marked with a white flag, he left directions for his 
consorts to find him. The paper still exists.^ It orders 
that all prizes shall be carried to Sardinia, and thence, 
if he was not found in Cagliari Bay, his captains were to 
send to him for further instructions to the port which he 
had already fixed for his destination. As Blake suspected, 
it was Toulon, and thither the two Princes presently made 
their way. 

Meanwhile Blake had put into Cartagena, and, having 
driven ashore another of Rupert's ships that was en- 
deavouring to enter the harbour, was demanding the 
surrender of the others in no humble key. * It is of very 
high consequenc3 to the Parliament of England,' he wrote 
to the Governor, ' and may be of no small concernment to 
his Majesty (the King of Spain) to give this business a 
speedy and present despatch, that, being master of these 
ships which are come into this harbour, I may be at 
liberty to pursue, and by God's blessing to seize upon, 

and chiefest traitors who had signed the sentence of death of the King of 
Great Britain, his uncle ' {Hist. MSS. Com. xiii. i. 548). No one of that 
name signed the death warrant. 

» Welbeck MSS. {Hist. MSS. Com. xiii. i.) 539. It is dated Nov. 5-15. 


the remainder of their strength before they join them- 
selves with the French, which is Hkely to be their last 

It was an argument well calculated to appeal to the 
Spanish Government, and Blake's broad appreciation of 
the political significance of his fleet is another mark of 
his high qualifications as an admiral. It will be remem- 
bered that Don John had been gathering at Messina a 
fleet to take advantage of the command of the sea which 
the troubles in France had left in Spanish hands. The 
opportunity had been used with success, and during the 
summer he had recovered all that the Spaniards had lost 
in Tuscany. On Michaelmas day, however, Mazarin 
had succeeded in arranging a pacification by which 
Bordeaux had returned to its allegiance. The sore which 
the Spaniards had kept open so long was healed, and at 
such a moment an addition to the French strength in the 
Mediterranean was the last thing they wished to see. 
The situation equally emphasised the importance of being 
on the best possible terms with the new military republic 
which was so viciously showing its teeth within the 
Straits. Accordingly, the oflicials at Cartagena were 
extremely polite, but protested they could do nothing 
without instructions, and finally induced Blake to consent 
to hold his hand till they had communicated with Madrid. 
But for this Kupert's men dared not wait. The next 
day they made a desperate attempt to get to sea, and, in 
endeavouring to weather the blockading force, were all 
driven ashore and totally wrecked. 

It was enough for Blake. Contenting himself with 
writing a letter to the King to demand the guns, cables, 
and anchors of the wrecked ships, he left one of his 
vessels with the two French prizes to receive them, and 
himself sailed in chase of Kupert and Maurice. He had 
captured papers which disclosed the rendezvous in the 
Balearic islands, and there he sought his quarry. As we 
know, the Princes were already flown, but Blake must 
have discovered Kupert's fresh instructions, and perhaps 
proceeded as far as Sardinia in search of him. At all 
events, it was not till after a three weeks' cruise that he 


was back at Cartagena, where he raust have learned that 
the Princes had been received in Toulon and were out of 
his reach. 

But his w^ork was done and he might well rest satis- 
fied with its result. ' Indeed,' wrote one of his captains, 
* the Lord hath proved us exceedingly, since w^e have had 
little of the arm of the flesh amongst us — I mean, since 
our great and powerful fleet of so many ships were 
reduced only to a little squadron of ten ships under the 
command of Colonel Blake : for since then we have taken 
the Brazil fleet, and after that, our squadron being now 
but three ships and four frigates, we have taken three 
French ships and destroyed and taken all Eupert's 
ships, seven in number, only two now remaining. And 
thus hath God owned us in the midst of our implacable 
enemies, so that the terror of God is amongst them. Five 
chaseth a hundred, and ten a thousand, which is marvel- 
lous in our eyes. The Spaniards are now exceeding kind 
unto us.' It was true enough. If they had been friendly 
ever since Popham and Blake took a high hand with 
Portugal, they were almost obsequious now. The pariah 
state had stretched out its hand into the Mediterranean 
and could no longer be ignored. On the very day the 
pious captain wrote his letter, Philip IV. recognised 
the Commonwealth by signing letters of credence for an 
ambassador who was to proceed to London in order to 
apologise for Ascham's murder, and to promise the punish- 
ment of the culprits, and shelter for the English fleets in 
Sx^anish ports. Portugal too was hurrying off an agent to 
try to come to terms, and it could not be long before the 
rest would have to do the same. Blake's work was indeed 
done, and shortly afterwards he went round to Cadiz to 
return home. 

But of all this nothing was known at home ; even his 
exploit on the Brazil fleet had not yet been heard of in 
London. All the Government knew was that Rupert 
had escaped from Lisbon, and their faith in the soldier 
they had trusted was broken. By a strange irony, as 
Blake was in the act of destroying Eupert's fleet as an 
effective force, they were sending out to supersede him. 


The officer selected was William Penn, a seaman born 
and bred, who, though not yet thirty years old, had for the 
past two or three years been serving the Parliament as a 
dag-officer on the Irish station. His instructions were to 
go South with such ships as could be spared from the 
Winter Guard, take over from Blake any of his squadron 
that might still be fit for sea, and order him home.' 

The appointment is highly significant. From his 
boyhood Penn had been carefully trained under his father 
for the naval service. All his hfe he had been afloat, 
and the selection of such a man, who indeed was des- 
tined to live as the typical representative of the old 
seaman school, marks in the clearest possible way the 
revulsion of feeling that w^as going on at headquarters. 
For the moment it looked as though the Commonwealth 
was about to abandon its policy of soldier admirals. But 
their distrust of the Colonel who was to shed so much 
histre on their naval administration did not last long. 
Even before Penn had actually left the Channel with 
his first division the Council of State had received Blake's 
letter from Malaga, announcing that he had entered the 
Mediterranean, and meant, God willing, to pursue the 
Princes wherever Providence should direct.^ 

It was enough to show them the mistake they were 
making. Penn's instructions were modified, and fresh 
orders were sent to Blake to stay where he was with the 
force he had at his command and finish what he had 
begun so well ; and finally, when the second division of 
Penn's fleet sailed, it carried orders that he was to place 
himself under Blake's command. With Blake_ in the 
Mediterranean, and in such a temper as his letter disclosed, 
there was nothing to fear. ' The seven ships left with 
Colonel Blake,' wrote Vane to Cromwell, ' are very likely 
to be the total ruin of Kupert's fleet and a great terror to 
the French. This hath made the Spaniard solemnly 
acknowledge us. Portugal likewise stands knocking at 
the door. . . .' So they rightly read the effect of their flag 
being displayed within the Straits. In the same week 

' Council of state to Blake, Nov. 2, 1650. Thurloe, S.P. i. 16fi. 
2 Council of State Proceedings, Dec. 13, 1050. Dom. Cal. p. 468. 
I. O 


that they sent Blake his new orders and Penn cleared the 
Channel, the French agent, who was trying to treat un- 
officially, was ordered to quit the kingdora, the Portu- 
guese envoy was refused a hearing, and the new Spanish 
Ambassador, in solemn act before Parliament, recognised 
the pariah state. 

As it happened, the new orders for Blake never reached 
him, but none the less did he reap the reward of what he 
had already achieved. On January 8, 1651, his proceedings 
were approved by Parliament, and he was ordered to be 
thanked. Early in February he was back in England. 
On the 13th he had the honour of making his relation to 
the House of ' the wonderful appearance of the powerful 
hand of God with him in his service at sea,' and was 
thereupon voted a grant of a thousand pounds * for his 
great and faithful service.' 



Blake's return in modest triumph at the beginning of 
1651, and the sailing of the two squadrons that were to 
reheve him, mark the definite adoption by England of a 
policy of activity in the Mediterranean. Through the 
half century that had come to an end we have traced 
the complex forces that had been drawing her reluctantly 
to her destiny. We have seen her appearing in her new 
sphere, at first piratically, in spite of herself, much as she 
had begun her career upon the ocean. We have watched 
the effects of that appearance as it rapidly revolutionised 
the old Itahan conditions by the dominating power of the 
sailing war-vessel and the seamanship of the North. One 
by one, every government that had its seat around the 
land-girt sea was made to feel the meaning of the change, 
and with every shift of European politics we have heard 
some fresh voice calling down the Northern powers to 
adjust the scale. Every time that call was answered, 
however faintly, we have seen the great continental 
struggle change its stride as soldiers and diplomatists, 
barely conscious of the cause, shifted uneasily at their 
work from end to end of Europe. There had been 
moments when it seemed that England, by using the 
arena that was opened to her, might have interfered 
almost like a deus ex machina. Yet still she held back, as 
she has done soberly before almost every decisive step 
that has led her to greatness. 

But now her hour had come, and the new and vigorous 
blood that was tingling in the veins of her Government 
set her boldly forward. The revolting sacrifice with 
which she had consecrated her liberties had outraged 


all Europe. By general consent she was treated as an 
outcast among nations, and scarcely had the new ad- 
ministration recognised its ostracism before it saw the 
way to bring Europe to reason. Spain was the first to 
fall ; for of all the great powers she was the one that lay 
most exposed to the new w^eapon. She had besides an 
hereditary dread of English enmity, and her exhausting 
struggle with France had done everything to emphasise 
the importance of an English alliance. Still so violent 
w^as her antipathy to the regicide Government, that even 
in the depth of her distress she could not bring herself 
to hold out a hand. Yet, with the first exhibition of 
the new force that the Commonwealth was able to display, 
her reserve had broken down. Blake had but to enter 
the Mediterranean and deliver his sounding blow on 
Rupert for all hesitation to vanish, and in a month or 
two a special ambassador was in London, and the outcast 
Government had been recognised by what was still re- 
garded as the proudest and most powerful Court in 
Europe. Small wonder then if the Commonwealth, in 
spite of the serious calls upon its navy in the Narrow 
Seas, resolved to continue the policy which Blake had so 
successfully inaugurated. 

It must not be supposed, however, that this policy was 
adopted entirely or quite consciously for political reasons. 
It was rather a reaction of that great internal change 
which, as we have seen, finally established the navy on its 
modern footing. Henceforward the national navy was to 
be a regular force of Government ships, built and main- 
tained for war alone. In sympathy with the growth of 
standing armies, merchantmen, however powerful, w^ere 
to be relegated to the position they have occupied ever 
since. Though still to be used as occasional auxiliaries, 
they were no longer to be counted on for the strength of 
the navy, but, on the contrary, w^ere to be regarded as one 
of its burdens. No change in our naval history is greater 
or more far-reaching than this. It was no mere change 
of organisation ; it was a revolution in the fundamental 
conception of naval defence. For the first time the pro- 
tection of the mercantile marine came to be regarded 


almost as the chief end for which the regular navy existed, 
and the whole of naval strategy underwent a profound 
iQodification in English thought. 

In Spain this idea of the functions of a navy had 
existed from the time when Philip II. had revived his 
marine for the protection of his oceanic commerce. In 
the Mediterranean it had also existed since the rise of the 
Mussulman corsairs ; but France and the Italian states, 
no less than Spain, had confined it practically to opera- 
tions within the Straits. Similarly, although the germ 
of the idea had always existed in England, it had been 
confined to the Narrow Seas. For nearly two centuries 
it had been the custom for the ro3'al navy to provide a 
regular escort, or * wafters ' as they were called, for the 
annual wine and wool fleets in the Bay of Biscay, the 
Channel, and the North Sea ; but all ships trading to the 
Levant had been expected to take care of themselves. 
The other Northern powers had acted on the same 
principle. Of late years, it is true, the Dutch had some- 
what extended the theory by maintaming a regular squad- 
ron about the Straits, and we have seen how James I. 
attempted to do the same. The effort came to little, for 
it was premature so long as the old theory of a navy 
existed. To the Commonwealth it Vv'as left to add the 
lasting reform to all the othere which it attempted with 
less success, and it was the consequent revolution in 
strategy that perhaps even more than purely political 
considerations pushed her into the Mediterranean. 

The revolution cannot be too strongly insisted on. It 
is the failure to appreciate its importance that has led to 
the keynote of the naval policy of the time being so little 
noticed. When strategists of the seventeenth century 
speak of the Mediterranean, it is almost always in terms 
of commerce protection, and we are thus inclined to miss 
the political significance that underlay their utterance. 
"We forget that so soon as the mercantile marine became 
a recognised burden on the navy, the main lines of 
commerce became also the main lines of naval strategy, 
and the crossing of the trade routes its focal points. 
Thus, although strategists, for the purpose of commending 


their views to the pubhc and the Treasury, naturally wrote 
in terms of commerce, we must never forget that what 
they were really aiming at was the command of the sea 
by the domination of the great trade routes and the 
acquisition of focal points as naval stations. 

Before ever Blake had entered the Mediterranean we 
see the process at work. It will be remembered that 
when, in 1650, he was alone before Lisbon, he had requi- 
sitioned out of the Portuguese Brazil fleet some English 
merchantmen to strengthen his blockading squadron. 
These vessels he and Popham subsequently sent home as 
being unfit in their opinion for active operations with the 
navy ships. This was in September. On the last day of 
October Parliament passed an act for adding fifteen per 
cent, to the customs, and directing that the money so 
raised should be used in defraying the cost of regular men- 
of-war to convoj' merchantmen, and early in December 
Captain Hall w^as appointed to command a squadron for 
convoy duty to the Mediterranean. The immediate cause 
of this memorable departure was the reckless way in 
which the French w^ere making use of the Stuart flag to 
prey on British commerce. At the time the act was 
passed it was said that French privateers had captured or 
destroyed five thousand tons of English shipping, together 
with some four hundred guns and cargoes valued at half 
a million. It is true the contra side of the account was 
mounting up rapidly since general reprisals had been 
authorised, but it was clear the force of private merchant- 
men, which had so long sufficed, would no longer serve 
against the growing excellence of the French men-of- 

Thus, when Penn was ordered to supersede Blake, 
he was given to understand that a second division would 
follow him under Hall in a month or two. The under- 
standing was apparently that Hall was to regard himself 
as under Penn's flag, with the restriction that Penn was 
to have no power to divert Hall's ships from their special 
convoy duties in the Mediterranean. As we have seen, 
the final instructions which Penn received before sailing 
had been largely modified. Instead of superseding Blake 


he was merely ordered to attempt the capture of a second 
Brazil fleet, which the Government knew was on its w^ay 
home. In view of Blake's blockade of Lisbon they ex- 
pected that the Portuguese authorities would stop the ships 
at the Azores. At the Azores, therefore, Penn was ordered 
to take up his station. He was given to understand that 
his further instructions would be sent to him at Vigo in 
Galicia, and whether or not he was able to intercept his 
quarry, he was to be at Vigo without fail by the end of 

He had but four frigates w^ith him, for these were all 
that could be spared from the Irish and Western squadrons 
which he had been commanding. Captain Jordan, now 
one of the most trusted of the Commonwealth's officers, 
was to bring him out for a flagship the recently launched 
' Fairfax ' so soon as she was ready for sea. So well timed 
was his sailing that, even before he reached his station, he 
fell in with and captured a Brazil ship. To his deep chagrin, 
however, it proved to be only a straggler from the main 
fleet of sixty- three sail, and he knew it must have already 
passed the islands. To retrieve his ill-luck he was for 
immediately giving chase, but an obstinate easterly wind 
held him to the Azores. A fortnight later the ' Fairfax ' 
and a small frigate found him still windbound. Nor was 
it till the first week in February that he was able to stand 
over for the Portuguese coast. Not having been able to 
reach Vigo by the appointed time, he had not received 
any further instructions, but he expected to get them 
from Hall's division, which was now due to join. As he 
approached the coast he spoke a Dutch convoy homeward 
bound from Cadiz, and then, to his great surprise, he learnt 
for the first time that neither Blake nor any of his fleet 
w^ere on the station. He was believed to have gone home, 
leaving four of his fleet to watch the Tagus. 

Meanwhile, as we know^ Blake had reached England 
to report his success. But even before his arrival the 

» Popham and Deane to Penn, November 10, IGoO ; Welbeck MSS.ii. 
70. In the same volume is a rough extract of bis journal, which, with 
the fuller extracts in Penn's Life of Penn, i. 317 et seq., is the chief 
authority for his long cruise. 


Government had learnt that the Princes had been winter- 
ing in Toulon under French protection. Upon this, 
Blake's brother Benjamin was hurried out in the 'Assur- 
ance,' in company with Captain Ball in the ' Adventure,' 
to reinforce Penn and to order him to immediately cany 
his squadron into the Straits and deal with Rupert. 
These urgent instructions the two frigate captains left at 
the appointed rendezvous at Vigo, and, not finding Penn 
there, they passed down the coast and cruised in company 
before Lisbon.^ Here Penn arrived in search of Eobert 
Blake and his fleet on February 21, and spoke the ' Assur- 
ance,' but Benjamin Blake did not know or did not choose 
to tell the purport of the orders he had brought out, and 
Penn had to send back to Vigo to fetch them. Two days 
later he fell in with the ' Adventure,' and from Captain 
Ball he learned for the first time that he was not to super- 
sede Blake, but to act under his orders (* for which,' he 
said handsomely, ' I am not sorry '). Subject to Blake's 
orders, however, he was given liberty to cruise as far as 
Gibraltar and Malaga. 

It was evident that these instructions must have 
been penned before it w^as known that Blake was return- 
ing home. They clearly contemplated the two admirals 
acting in concert, which was now impossible. Penn 
was consequently in doubt, under the changed conditions, 
whether he ought to enter the Straits or to take Blake's 
place on the Portuguese coast. His desire was certainly to 
remain where he was ; but on the morrow Hall appeared 
with his division in charge of the Levant convoy, and the 
instructions he brought made it clear to Penn that w^hile 
Hall went up the Straits with the convoy, he himself 
was also to enter the Mediterranean in search of Rupert. 
He could no longer doubt that this w^as the effect of 
the orders that had been left at Vigo, and after a short 

' Eichard Gibson, in his 'Reminiscences' (Gardiner, Dutch War, -p. 17), 
says he was cruising four months in Benjamin Blake's ship before Penn 
appeared. This would make him sail from England in September 1650, but 
we know the order to commission the two frigates was not issued till 
November 15 {Dom. Cal. C ojywwnice alt h,ii. 500). The two frigates probably 
sailed in December, so as to reach Vigo at the end of the month, when 
Penn was expected to be there. 


consultation he decided to uncover Lisbon, and go down 
to Cadiz to revictual and clean for the chase. 

Thus reluctantly he had forced upon him the honour 
of conducting the first true Mediterranean squadron. 
His disapproval of the move he could not conceal, but 
whether his objections were purely strategical may be 
doubted. As a sailor admiral his mind worked still in 
the old grooves which Drake at his best had vainly tried 
to break up. He was wedded to the false but profitable 
game of commerce destruction, and he did not scruple to 
say so. True, in acknowledging his orders he based his 
objections on the fact that Lisbon was almost reduced to 
famine by the blockade, and practically at his mercy ; but 
it was on prizes that his mind was harping. ' Already,' 
he lamented, ' we have seized more vessels than we have 
been days before it, and I am confident that in one month 
we should have taken as many as we could well have 
manned.' Smarting under the disappointment of having 
so narrowly missed the Brazil fleet, he seemed incapable 
of appreciating the wider strategy of the Council of State 
or to see there was higher game stirring. Still, orders 
had to be obeyed, and for Penn it must at least be said 
that he obeyed them loyally. 

By March 1 he was in Cadiz, busy refitting his fleet. 
Hall had also put in there with his convoy, and before 
such a display of force the Spanip.rds were more than 
eve^ polite. ' Your fleets meeting here,' wrote Hall in his 
despatch, 'so soon after the departure of the other [that 
is, Blake's] is of no less admiration to other foreign 
kingdoms (into which reports fly to them daily) than to 
Spain, who much admire your quickness in such strength 
and fresh supplies. So as I believe in a short time the 
Spaniards, between fear and love, will grow respectful to 
us, though hitherto we have had little sign of it, more 
than compliments which we fail not to equalise them in.' ^ 
On March 13 Hall passed on his way up the Straits 
with his convoy, but it was not till the end of the month 
that Penn had his whole squadron ready, and on the *29th 
he entered the Mediterranean with eight sail, * intending,' 

' Penn, i. 325-330. 


as he wrote, ^ (with God's assistance) to find Prince 
Rupert out, and endeavour the destroying of him and his 

In Toulon the Princes had succeeded in refitting the 
* Eeformation ' and ' Swallow ' and tw^o other vessels, and 
in persuading another English captain to join their flag. 
Mazarin had found it necessary to go back from Riche- 
lieu's policy, and the exigencies of his struggle with the 
great feudal families had forced him to conciliate one of 
them by granting the office of Grand Master of Naviga- 
tion to the Due de Vendome. To him Rupert applied 
for assistance and received permission freely to use the 
port and its stores in return for the money realised by the 
sale of his prizes. This permission, however, was accom- 
panied by a curious change in Rupert's line of action which 
is highly significant. ' His Highness,' saj^s his chronicler, 
after relating what had passed at Toulon, 'seeing himself 
reduced to three sail, strained the utmost of his treasure 
and bought another, which was named the *' Honest 
Seaman," and being but weak in ships endeavoured to be 
strong in men. Before his levy was perfect an English 
gentleman called Captain Craven, who had a ship at 
Marseilles, took commission under his Highness, and 
joined with the fleet, w'hich, being at anchor with the rest 
of his fleet, w^as named the " Loyal Subject." Thus, with 
a squadron of five ships, conceiving all disasters past, he 
fixed his resolution to take revenge on the Spaniard.' ^ 

Of this determination no explanation is given. Instead 
of continuing to strike directly at English commerce, he 
had apparently resolved to deal with the Spaniards for 
giving the regicides liberty of their ports, as Blake had 
dealt with the Portuguese for receiving the cavalier fleet. 
The seamen seem to have been clearly under the im- 
pression that they were to wage war on Spain, and this is 
perhaps why he succeeded in filling up his crews so well. 
British sailors w^ere always poor politicians. They did 
not like fighting their ow^n countrymen, whatever the 
cause, but were always ready enough to fight Spaniards, 
especially as that way plunder w^as the easiest come by. 

' Warburton, iii. 323. 


Kupert's aim, however, did not end there. It was far 
more ambitious. He had secretly made up his mind that, 
after obtaining all he could on the Spanish coast, he would 
go out to the West Indies. There he intended to support 
the British colonies that still recognised the King, and 
so rekindle the war from that distant base. But so soon 
as he opened his mind to his companies he found them 
strongly opposed to any such course, and bent on remain- 
ing in Spanish waters. It is clear, then, that the declared 
objective of the little squadron when it sailed was Spanish 
commerce, and it is quite possible that it was on this 
understanding that Kupert received permission to use the 
Toulon dockyard. Mazarin, since the battle of Dunbar, 
had nearly lost hope of the royal cause, and though he 
could not bring himself to adopt the advice of his agent 
in England and recognise the Commonwealth, he was 
doing his best to stop the disastrous reprisals in which 
the two countries were engaged at sea. The sailing of 
Penn's fleet can only have increased his anxiety to come 
to terms. It was followed by the alarming news that 
Philip had forestalled him in recognising the Common- 
wealth, and he was warned by his agents that England 
was on the brink of entering into an offensive alliance 
with Spain. At the same time he was still losing ground 
to the Spaniards in the Mediterranean, and nothing seems 
more likely than that the condition of the assistance that 
was given to Kupert was that he was to use his force in 
weakening Spain, and not in giving further provocation 
to the Common w^ealth. 

Whether or not some such condition had been exacted 
from Eupert, it is clear he had little intention of abiding 
by it. When he sailed in the spring he steered to the 
eastward, giving out that his destination was the Levant. 
This was all the information of his movements that Penn 
was able to pick up when, after faihng to find him among 
the Balearic islands and capturing a few Erench prizes, he 
too proceeded to the eastward. On May 1 he had heard 
from the Governor of Minorca that Kupert had been 
ready for sea some three weeks past. He therefore made 
for Sardinia as the best chance of getting in contact with 


him, and of falling in with the French privateers who 
had taken to lying there for the English Levant traders. 
At Cagliari there was still no news of the chase, and all he 
could learn was that the King of France had engaged to 
lend the Princes three ships. For ten days he cruised 
between Sardinia and the Barbary coast, till, having 
assured himself his enemy had not passed eastward, he 
resolved to bear up along the east side of Sardinia and 
Corsica and lie off Toulon. In this way he made sure he 
would lay hold of some French man-of-war and get more 
certain information of Rupert's course. Subsequently 
he decided to put into Leghorn on his way, in order to 
communicate with the British Consul there, and the very 
day he arrived, May 25, a galley came in from Toulon 
bringing the Consul letters to the effect that Rupert with 
his five vessels and a fire-ship had sailed on the 7th, the 
same day that Penn had reached Sardinia. 

So soon therefore as he had watered and sent off his 
despatches to the Council of State, he ran back southward, 
and after setting apart a Friday ' to seek the Lord in 
public,' he took up his station off Trapani at the western 
end of Sicily. There for a whole month he cruised in 
the narrows of the Mediterranean between Bizerta, Malta, 
and the Sicilian coast. Several valuable prizes were his 
reward, the richest of which, a 200-ton ship of 18 guns 
from Marseilles, full of treasure, he captured in a calm. 
The way in which it was done deserves recording as 
a testimony to the versatility of Penn and his officers. 
There being no wind to overhaul the chase, three of the 
frigates were fitted with oar-ports between the guns, and 
thus temporarily turned into vessels of free movement. 
In this way he was able, with the help of the boats fowling, 
to overhaul and capture his prize. This feat was all the 
more satisfactory, for it was afterwards found that in a 
good breeze she could outsail any of the English vessels 
by a main-top sail.^ But of the Princes he could hear 
nothing. Nor was it till the end of July that he knew 
his prayers and his activity had been alike unavailing. 
Patting into Messina, he found letters awaiting him from 

' Penn, Life of Penn, ii. App. M. 


the Consul at Leghorn, saying that the Princes had been 
seen o& Cadiz. The fact was, Rupert's easterly course had 
been a mere ruse, but it had succeeded in outwitting Penn. 
Eupert had never passed to the eastward of Corsica at 
all, but had run directly down to the African coast just 
when the false intelligence he had spread had made Penn 
move to Sardinia out of his way. Stealing westward 
along the Barbary shore, while Penn was running north 
to Leghorn and Hall was far up to the eastward, he had 
quietly cleared the Straits without hindrance. Then, after 
trying in vain to light on a Spanish prize on the Anda- 
lusian coast, he had held off to Madeira out of harm's way. 
Thus, though Penn's chase had failed in its main 
object, he had successfully covered the Levant trade and 
had driven Kupert out of the Mediterranean. It was all 
that was needed. Out on the ocean it was impossible for 
such a squadron as Eupert's to live long. By shipwreck, 
disease, and disaffection his force began inevitably to melt 
away, and though he did eventually reach the West Indies 
he was never again a real danger. The whole episode, in 
fact, was a kind of foretaste of Nelson's duel with Ville- 
neuve, and Eupert's move to the West Indies proved as 
disastrous to the Eoyalist cause at sea as did Villeneuve's 
to that of Napoleon. Unlike Nelson, Penn did not take 
the strong step of leaving his station in pursuit, but like 
him he moved to the Straits. On his way he fell in with 
part of the Dutch Mediterranean squadron and received 
from the officer in command the deliberately false informa- 
tion that on June 30 he had seen Eupert's squadron off 
the Lizard heading up Channel. The news was not 
credited, and as there were rumours that the French New- 
foundland fish fleet was coming into the Mediterranean, 
Penn decided to hold the Straits to waylay it. A fort- 
night later he received news of the * crowning mercy ' at 
Worcester by which Cromwell had given the death-blow 
to the Eoyalist cause. Eupert was therefore less than 
ever a danger, but at home the Princes were still believed 
to be on the Spanish coast, and with the good news Penn 
received orders from the Council of State that he was to 
devote himself to their destruction. A few days later 


he obtained information that they were at the Azores, 
but still he clung to Gibraltar, being sure they must 
sooner or later make their way back. Moreover, by hold- 
ing the Straits he had the best chance of making prizes. 
Throughout the whole campaign this idea of the object of 
naval warfare had never ceased to confuse his judgment. 
But in view of the intelligence he had of the unsea- 
worthiness of Eupert's best ships and of the fact that 
a squadron under Ayscue had been ordered to the West 
Indies, it is difficult to say his decision was not right. 
He must at least be credited with the tenacity of the 
convictions which fastened him to the station he had 
chosen all through the winter, and the skill with which 
he disposed his squadron, both night and day, so that, as 
his son wrote, ' few ships went into the Straits but they 
were spoken with if friends, or taken if enemies.' ^ 

At the end of November intelligence reached him that 
the * Eeformation,' the best of Eupert's ships, had been 
lost at the Azores with all hands. Thereupon, feeling 
justified at last in dividing his force, he resolved in council 
of war to detach three frigates westward to complete the 
Princes' destruction. With the rest of his force it was 
decided he should remain on guard w^here he was, and 
there he remained till the end of January 1652, when 
Badiley, in charge of the Levant convoy, arrived with a 
fresh squadron to relieve him. So the memorable cruise 
of the first true Mediterranean squadron came to an end, 
and early in February Penn cleared from Cadiz, home- 
ward bound, having faithfully guarded the Levant trade, 
and with thirty-six prizes to his credit. 

* Penn, ii. App. M. 



Meanwhile the Mediterranean policy of the two 
northern repubhcs had been developing. The foregoing 
narrative will show that, although Hall's division had 
been definitely sent to protect commerce in the Mediter- 
ranean, Penn's presence there was to some extent an 
accident. When he sailed he had no orders for enteringr 
the Straits, and it was not till off Lisbon he met his 
fresh instructions to 'enlarge his quarters,' as he said, in 
consequence of Rupert's movements, that he thought of 
quitting the Atlantic. Since that time events had occurred 
which deeply emphasised the expediency of maintaining a 
permanent Mediterranean fleet. The heartburnings which 
for years had been accumulating between the English 
and the Dutch at sea were now increasing in intensity. 
In the course of their reprisals on the French the English 
officers exerted the undoubted right— as international 
law then was — to search Dutch vessels for French goods. 
This claim the Dutch, whose most profitable trade had 
always been in troubled waters, persistently refused to 
admit, and while Penn was lying in the Straits on the 
look-out for the French Newfoundland fleet, in which 
were many Dutch vessels, it almost came to blows. The 
Dutch southern squadron was about the Straits under 
Van Galen, one of the toughest and most strong-handed 
officers in the States' service— a veteran who had spent 
a strenuous lifetime in fighting Spaniards and corsairs. 
He had his ships dispersed for cruising, and one of them 
under Cornelis Tromp, son of the great admiral, fell in 
with Penn. Tromp at once divined what the English 
game was, and promptly passed the word for a concan- 


tration. The intention certainly was to force Penn 
to leave the Newfoundland fleet alone, and it was only 
by the British admiral's tact and diplomacy that a serious 
conflict was avoided. 

That the Dutch were able to take this high line was 
due to a recent and unprecedented development in their 
naval policy. When in 1648 the Peace of AVcstphalia 
brought the Thirty Years' War to a conclusion, their 
fleet was not reduced as usual to a bare peace footing. 
Owing to their strained relations with the Commonwealth 
and the increasing display of English power in the 
Mediterranean, more serious precautions were thought 
necessary. It had been resolved therefore that the 
admiralties of the various provinces should keep at sea 
a permanent force of forty sail for the protection of Dutch 
commerce. But, as the tension increased, even this was 
not considered sufficient. In the spring of 1651, after 
Penn and Hall had begun their operations, it was decided 
to practically double the existing establishment. On 
May 16 the States General called upon the various 
admiralties to furnish their respective quotas of an ad- 
ditional force of thirty-five sail, and a complete system of 
commerce protection was laid down. Five ships and 
fifteen frigates were to cruise from the Skager Back to 
Gibraltar, covering the whole North Sea and Atlantic 
coasts ; and the rest, being twelve ships and three frigates, 
or half the effective force of the new fleet, were to serve 
in the Mediterranean.^ 

The English Government replied with a corresponding 
addition to their own convoy squadrons. Hall had come 
home, but he had been replaced by another frigate squadron 
under a certain Captain Henry Appleton with Badiley for 
his second in command, and acting in two divisions they 
had been constantly employed throughout the year in 
convoying merchantmen from place to place over the 
whole extent of the Mediterranean. To this force at the 
end of the j-ear was added the last new ship of the 
Commonwealth, which, as a s3anbol of their increasing 
power, had been named the ' Worcester,' after their late 

' Dutch War, i. 57 ; ii. 22, 25. 


triumph. With a small frigate as a tender she was ordered, 
under Captain Charles Thorowgood, on convoy duty, and 
to the particular service of redeeming slaves at Algiers. 
Not content even with this provision the Navy Committee 
reported that twenty-six more vessels should be brought 
forward for commerce protection, which would bring up 
the total to the number of those specially voted by the 
Dutch. On this report Parliament voted on January 14, 
1652, that a permanent squadron not exceeding twelve 
sail was to be kept continually in the Mediterranean, and 
a system of reliefs arranged so that every quarter three 
or four ships should be sent home with convoys and 
be replaced by a similar number of fresh ones taking 
out outward-bound vessels. For this purpose the navy 
officers were authorised to commission thirty-eight sail. 
The English Mediterranean squadron would thus be in a 
numerical inferiority of three to the Dutch, whose squad- 
ron was to be fifteen ; but it may be presumed that the 
English Government, owing to the general superiority of 
their ships, regarded these twelve as equal in force to the 
Dutch fifteen.! With regard to the rest of the Dutch 
permanent fleet, they were of course more or less balanced 
by the powerful Summer and Winter Guards that were 
always kept in the Narrow Seas, and charged with the 
ordinary convoy service of the Bay of Biscay and the 
North Sea and Baltic ports. 

The English position had been further secured by the 
reduction of the Scilly Islands. There Sir John Gren- 
ville, grandson of the famous Sir Eichard of the ' Eevenge,' 
had managed to maintain himself under the Stuart flag. 
But the place had sunk into a mere nest of pirates, and 
in the spring of 1651 the Dutch, who had suffered as 
much as any one else, threatened to seize it. Tromp 
actually declared war on Grenville ; but Blake was 
hurried to the scene with Ayscue's squadron, which was 
on the point of saihng for the West Indies, and quickly 
forced Grenville to surrender. Before the year was out 
the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey had shared the fate 
of Scilly. Thus at a stroke the Dutch were deprived of 
' Dulch War {Navy Records Society), i. 61 ct seq. 


any hope they entertained of estabHshing a naval station 
in English waters, and the last blow was given to the 
Stuart sea power which at one time had threatened so 
seriously the very existence of the Commonwealth. 

Another change must be noted. In August, while the 
resources and energy of the Commonwealth were strained 
to the utmost to meet the new danger caused by 
Charles II. 's reception in Scotland, Popham, who with 
the Channel Guard was watching to prevent any com- 
munication between the continent and the King at 
Stirling, suddenly died. In spite of the anxiety of the 
time, his body was brought up from Dover and buried at 
"Westminster with all the pomp and solemnity of which 
the Eepublic was capable. Blake, to give him compara- 
tive rest after all his exertions, had been sent to Plymouth 
to watch the West. Deane was tied to Cromwell's army, 
preparing the flotilla for the masterly turning movement 
across the Forth which finally forced Charles from his 
impregnable position at Stirling. So Blake had to be 
hastily summoned from his rest and sent to sea again 
w^ith the Channel Guard. Thus to all intents, on the eve 
of the great struggle with the Dutch, he became virtually 
sole naval Commander-in-Chief. 

This then was the situation when, in the first days of 
February 1652, news reached Holland that Ayscue had 
seized in the West Indies the whole of the Dutch ships 
to the number of twenty-seven which he had found there 
trading in contravention of the Enghsh Act of October 3, 
1650, forbidding commerce with the Eoyalist colonies. 
The Dutch merchants, seeing their West Indian trade 
threatened with destruction, petitioned that Vice-Admiral 
Jan Evertsen, who commanded the Northern division of 
the permanent squadron cruising from the Korth Sea 
down to Finisterre, should be reinforced and the Mediter- 
ranean squadron ordered to join him. He would then be 
able to intercept Ayscue's home-coming fleet and protect 
the outgoing West Indian merchantmen. About a fort- 
night later, on February 22, the States General issued 
the heroic order that the admiralties were to equip and 
arm no fewer than one hundred and fifty ships over 


and above those already at sea in order to protect their 
commerce. Fifty of these were to be got to sea im- 
mediately, and the rest as soon as might be. It was not 
in the nature of the Commonwealth to let their enemies 
arm in peace. Three days later they confirmed Blake as 
sole Commander-in-Chief for a period of nine months. 
The Council of State duly made out his commission, 
deciding at the same time to defer the consideration of a 
person to fill Popham's vacant place, and immediately 
sent him down to Deptford, Woolwich, and Chatham to 
find out why th^ Summer Guard was not yet ready for 
sea. Eeprimands went singing into every one's ears ; the 
' Sovereign of the Seas ' (cut down a deck) and the 'Prince * 
(renamed the 'Eesolution '), the two glories of the 
Caroline navy, were ordered into commission ; the whole 
country was ransacked for guns ; and Penn, who was just 
arriving from the Mediterranean with his four best ships, 
was ordered to keep them still at sea, and was subse- 
quently selected by Blake for his vice-admiral. In April 
both Blake and Tromp were out, and on May 19 occurred 
the memorable conflict between them over the honour 
of the flag. Parliament immediately ordered forty more 
ships to be manned and armed, and began still more 
drastic reprisals on Dutch commerce. The bitter rivalry 
between the seamen of the two countries, which had been 
growing in acrimony ever since the English enabled the 
Dutch to become a sea power, had come to a head at last. 
All negotiations were in vain, and on the last day of June 
the Dutch envoys took their leave of Parliament, and the 
first of the great Dutch wars had begun. 

Thus at its outset the growth of the Enghsh power 
in the Mediterranean received a check. The system of 
rehefs which had recently been established was thrown out 
of gear, and Appleton and Badiley, who were in command 
of the two divisions of the Mediterranean squadron under 
the new organisation, were left to shift for themselves. 
Not that the Enghsh Government at first had any idea 
of abandoning the position they had taken up. The total 
number of ships voted for the year 1652 was two hundred 
and fifty besides fire-ships. From this great fleet three 

p 2 


squadrons were to be detached for particular service in 
protecting commerce. A squadron of twenty sail was to 
proceed to the North ; another, of thirty sail, was to guard 
the mouth of the Channel ; while a third, also of thirty 
sail, was to go down to the Straits.^ 

For the men to whose arduous lot it fell to keep the 
English flag flying in the Mediterranean the situation 
happened at the moment to be singularly unfavour- 
able. The squadron was not only particularly weak, 
but was very unfortunately disposed. Appleton, who 
had been busy during the winter and spring convoying 
merchantmen all over the Levant, was in Leghorn 
with the ' Leopard ' (48) and the ' Bonaventure ' (44). 
The ' Constant Warwick ' (32), the third vessel of his 
division, was in Genoa. Leghorn, the Grand Duke of 
Tuscany's principal port, had become the chief trading 
centre of those seas, and here the Commonwealth had 
practically established the headquarters of the Mediter- 
ranean squadron by appointing a navy agent. The man 
chosen was Charles Longland, a merchant who had dis- 
played much resource and activity in supplying Penn with 
stores and intelligence during his late cruise against Eupert. 
It is a name that deserves remembrance. He was a man 
of the type to which England has owed so much. A mere 
successful Italian merchant, suddenly called to State affairs, 
he immediately developed a courageous energy and diplo- 
matic ability that were equalled only by the remarkable 
intuition for the broad conditions of naval power which 
his despatches exhibit. Appointed in November 1651, 
when the Commonwealth had determined on a continuous 
Mediterranean policy, he had already succeeded in obtain- 
ing from the Grand Duke extraterritorial rights in his 
port for English navy ships— a privilege which practically 
amounted to the recognition of the Commonwealth. He 
also secured their free access to the port for careening 
and supply, and thus provided the squadron with a base.^ 

* Perm's Life of Penn, i. 430. 

^ Longland to Navy Committee and enCiOsures, April 19, 1652 [Domestic 
Calendar, p. 221). The Calendar contains the series of despatches from 
Longland and tlie naval officers on which the following narrative is mainly 


Badiley had already been able to use it. In March he had 
entered the Straits with the ' Paragon ' (52), the ' Phoenix * 
and 'Elizabeth' (two 3G-gun frigates), and a smaller one, 
the ' Nightingale ' (24). Passing up the Spanish coast, 
he had driven the French war-ships before him into 
Toulon and taken his convoy safely to Genoa and Leghorn. 
Then, in the usual course, he had passed on to the far 
Levant and w^as now at Smyrna, about to sail on his 
return voyage. Thus it happened that at the critical 
moment the two English squadrons were as widely 
divided as they could well be. 

To make matters worse, the Dutch were unusually 
concentrated. Tneir admiral Katz had assembled a 
force of fourteen sail, and was engaged in making a 
demonstration before Toulon. Its object is difficult to 
determine. Toulon for some time past had been in a 
disaffected condition ; but, though IMarseilles had thrown 
in her lot with the Fronde, the naval port was still 
nominally loyal, and Frenchmen on the Italian exchanges 
gave out that Katz was come to secure it effectively in 
the interests of the French King. The suspicion that 
Mazarin's hand was in it was plausible enough. At 
the moment his chief need was for naval assistance. 
During the years when he had been powerful at sea, 
he had wrested from Spain her chief Flemish ports, 
Gravelines, Mardyke, and finally Dunkirk. But now the 
tables were turned. Gravelines was already recovered. 
Dunkirk was closely besieged by a Spanish army, and the 
Due de Vendome, the new ' Grand Master,' was straining 
every nerve to carry rehef to it from Brest. Barcelona, 
which was still in French hands, was in much the same 
case, and Mazarin was trying to get a squadron equipped 
in the Mediterranean to reinforce Vendome at Brest and to 
relieve Barcelona on the way. 

This service was committed to a certain Chevalier de 
la Ferriere, an officer of the port of Toulon, who in 1G49 

based. But it must be noted that Longland's are wrongly placed. On com- 
paiins liis despatches with Appleton's and Badiley's, it is clear Longland, 
in the Italian manner, used new style dates, and they therefore must be 
taken to have been written ten days earlier than appears in the Calendar. 


had used the force then at his command to seize and destroy 
the London Levant Company's fleet, and was regarded by 
EngHsh merchants as the arch-thief of the Mediterranean. 
Longland had been urging the Council of State to send a 
squadron to reinforce their strength within the Straits, 
and suggested that it might begin operations by destroy- 
ing La Ferriere's fleet on its way to Barcelona in retribu- 
tion for his depredations on English commerce. English 
naval officers, as we know, had already extended their re- 
prisals against ships belonging to the French Crown, and, 
in view of the critical condition of his affairs, Mazarinmay 
well have welcomed any counterbalancing factor which 
might hamper English action on the Provengal coast. 
Nothing came of Longland's bold idea ; but, in view of 
what afterwards occurred, it is important to bear in mind 
that this method of bringing the French to reason by 
a stunning blow had been suggested to the Council of 
State from the Mediterranea^n as early as the spring of 

There was, however, another explanation of the 
Toulon demonstration very different from that given by 
the French. Dutchmen affirmed that Katz was there to 
demand redress. There can be no doubt the Dutch had 
suffered as much from the seizure of Spanish goods in their 
vessels by the French as they had done from the seizure 
of French and Portuguese goods by the English, and the 
Dutch merchants in Italy gave out that, in default of justice 
being done, their admiral had commission for reprisals on 
French ships. But, as week after week went by and 
nothing definite was done, Longland came to the shrewd 
conclusion that Katz's action would depend on the result 
of the negotiations which were then in progi'ess between 
London and the Hague. Almost from the first he smelt 
mischief, and he had never ceased to urge upon the home 
Government the need of reinforcing their Mediterranean 
squadron. As news of the strained relations with the 
Dutch reached him, his anxiety increased, and he decided 
vdth Appleton that he had better not put to sea till Badiley 
rejoined. On June 18 he heard o£ Blake's collision 

■ See i^ost, p. 222. 


with Tromp, just a month after it occurred, and immedi- 
ately sent off to warn Badiley at Smyrna of the coming 
storm. Ten daj'S later it burst. On that day Katz, flying 
the flag of Vice-x\dmiral of Holland, appeared with his 
whole squadron before Leghorn, and Appleton and his rich 
convoy were caught. In serious alarm he began unloading 
his more precious goods. Katz threatened to attack if he 
did not desist, but the Tuscan Governor held firm and Katz 
stayed his hand. As the Dutch were still vehemently 
striving in London to avert the war their lawlessness had 
brought upon them, it is probable that Katz had no 
definite orders to use violence, and moreover the redoubt- 
able Van Galen was on his way out overland to supersede 
him. None knew the ground better than he, and it w^as 
not a year since he had crowned his reputation by forcing 
a treaty on Salee.^ 

Longland was at his wit's end. It was not only Van 
Galen, but serious reinforcements that the Dutch were 
expecting. He feared, too, the French might join them. 
As it was, even if Badiley succeeded in rejoining Appleton, 
the British force would be far too w^eak to do anything, 
and he redoubled his importunity for more ships. His 
efforts were supported by the powerful Levant Company 
at home. But the Admiralty w^as up to its eyes as it 
was. Blake, regardless of Tromp, had gone North with 
the main fleet to destroy the Dutch fishing flotilla, and 
not a ship could be spared. They suggested that the 
Levant Company should fit out war ships of their own 
under the letters of marque which had been already 
granted them after La Ferriere's destruction of their 
fleet. They replied they were too poor after all their 
lasses from the French depredations in the Mediterranean, 
and, insisting on the new conception of commerce protec- 
tion, suggested that the State should hire their ships that 
were out there, and fit them as men-of-war at the public 
exjoense. And this was all that could be done. 

Meanwhile things at Leghorn remained at a deadlock. 
Tne Grand Duke would not allow the Dutch to attack, 
and Appleton could not stir. On August '2'2 Van Galen 
' Vie de CorneiUe Tromp, 1694. 


arrived ; Badiley was also daily expected. It was well that 
the English had such a man to face the Dutch veteran. 
Like Longland, he was a m?n typical of his time. All 
through the days of his manhood, when Levant traders 
were expected to look after themselves, he had com- 
manded a little ship called the 'Advance,' with a crew of 
only fifty-four hands, and three times at various points 
in the Mediterranean — once in 1637, once in 1640, and 
again in 1644 — he had fought single-handed and heavily 
beaten powerful Barbavy squadrons that had attacked 
him.^ When the Parliament was setting out to establish 
its sea power he had been given the command of the 
' Happy Entrance ' after its return to its allegiance, and 
while commanding her had planned and carried through 
the destruction of the * Antelope,' which Eupert had been 
forced to leave behind in Helvoetsluys. Since then, 
as we know, he had had further experience as Bk\ke's 
rear-admiral on the coast of Portugal. Still, bold and 
resourceful as he was, he was no match for Van Galen in 
strategy or fleet tactics. All he could do, and well he did 
it, was to uphold the honour of his flag. 

The moment Van Galen took over the command, all 
was astir. Leaving six vessels to watch Appleton in 
Leghorn, he himself immediately put to sea to intercept 
Badiley and prevent any co-operation with his colleague. 
For two days he kept in sight, and then disappeared to 
the west. Cox, who commanded the * Constant War- 
wick ' in Genoa, was promptly ordered to follow and 
ascertain his movements, with instruction that, if he found 
Van Galen making to the eastward, he was to go with all 
speed to Messina and on to Zante to meet Badiley. 
Whether Van Galen deceived Cox, or whether the latter 
was anxious to get away from Appleton's control, to Zante 
he w^ent, and, the day after he had sailed, Van Galen 
le.ppeared before Leghorn. ^ Appleton was deeply 
aggrieved, but there can be no doubt that Cox's resolve 
to get to sea w^as for the best, though he certainly dis- 

• See his Lieutenant John Steele's affidavit and Badiley's Ansiccr to 
Appleton's Remonstrance, p. 90, Brit. Mus. E. 1952 (9). 

- v^ppktDn to Navy Committee, S.P. Dom. xxiv. 89, July 23, 1652. 


obeyed orders. It was a serious misfortune that Apple- 
ton, besides being ill, was a thoroughly incompetent and 
unenterprising officer ; he was now less inclined than ever 
to move ; nor could Longland, having as yet no order to 
show, induce the captains of the Levant Company's ships 
to put their hand to the work. Thus Van Galen's dispo- 
sitions were not so much as disturbed, and Badiley was 
left without assistance. 

Cox met him at Zante, and informed him that he had 
left Van Galen steering westward. Badiley immediately 
resolved, instead of taking his convoy by w^ay of Messina 
and Naples, the usual route by which Van Galen would 
expect him, to proceed direct to Leghorn. He had, even 
with the ' Constant Warwick,' but four men-of-w^ar in 
company, besides the four Levant merchantmen of his 
convoy, against Van Galen's fourteen at the least. The 
9dds were heavy against him, but he meant to try. 
English seamen proverbially underestimated the fighting 
powers of the Dutch, and if the merchantmen and Apple- 
ton only played their parts there was no reason why he 
should not cut his way through, in case, after all, he found 
Van Galen still off Leghorn. But from the intelligence 
which Cox had given him, Badiley was inclined to believe 
that Van Galen's design was to double back to the 
eastward, and lie in wait for him about the southern 
cape of Sardinia, and not near Leghorn. Thus, by 
following the course he had in his mind, and passing 
inside Sardinia and Corsica, he hoped to elude Van 
Galen altogether, and join hands with Appleton without 

Unfortunately, as we know, his intelligence was incor- 
rect, and Van Galen continued to keep up the delusion. 
A. week or so after he had reappeared at Leghorn he 
again put to sea with ten sail as though he were going to 
Toulon. Some said it was to fetch four fresh ships that 
had been equipped for him there ; others that he was 
going to blockade the place, which was now in open 
revolt, while the King attacked it from the land side.- 

' Batliley's despatch, Aug. 31, S.P. Domestic, xxiv. 125, i. 

' Longland to Council of State, August 9-19, 1652, ibid. xxiv. 107. 


Longland was not deceived, and, in despa"r of a junction 
being effected, was hoping as late as August 22 that 
Badiley was waiting at Messina till the fleet that was 
expected from England arrived. As a matter of fact Van 
Galen was still somewhere off Leghorn, and apparently 
fully aware of Badiley's movements. About the 26th he 
moved southward with his ten sail, leaving only four and 
an armed merchantman just joined to blockade Appleton, 
and it was at this time that Badiley was stealing up 
inside the islands. Next day, as he was passing Monte 
Christo, the two fleets sighted one another. About four 
o'clock they engaged, but a calm and nightfall put an end 
to the action before it had grown serious. ' There was 
not above four or five hundred pieces of ordnance spent 
on both sides,' wrote Badiley, ' and we had suffered but 
little.' Next morning Badiley was discovered to have been 
making his way towards Monte Christo, and three of the 
Dutch ships had fallen so far to leeward that Van Galen 
did not renew the attack till noon. The Dutch had ap- 
parently been reinforced by one ship from before Leghorn, 
and, so soon as their rearguard had closed up, Van Galen 
bore down with his whole weight. 

Then all that long summer day raged a fight which 
each side agreed was the hottest within memory. To the 
Dutch Badiley appeared to have awaited their attack with 
his navy ships disposed in a half-moon, but he himself 
says that, according to the usual English practice, he had 
ordered his captains to fall astern of him and to engage 
at musket range. His order, however, was not properly 
obeyed even by the navy ships. Cox in the ' Constant 
Warwick ' — an officer whose courage was as fierce and 
reckless as his temper — alone took and kept his station, 
and on him and Badiley fell the heat of the action. The 
Levant ships took hardly any part at all, but made their 
way safely and with all speed into Porto Longone in 
Elba, while Badiley held Van Galen. Owing to the failure 
of his captains to support him the Dutch were able to 
concentrate on the two leading ships, but all day long 
they held their own. ' By my gunner's account,' Badiley 
tells, ' we discharged from this ship eight hundred pieces 


of great ordnance that day, which must have done no 
small execution, having sometimes two of the enemy's best 
men-of-war aboard; and their Admiral, Vice- Admiral, and 
Eear-Admiral, with all the rest, sometimes within pistol- 
and musket-shot of us.' Once he was boarded, and so hot 
was the reception that his adversary cried for quarter, but 
he was too hard pressed to take possession. Van Galen 
himself led the attack, but was soon forced to fall away 
with the loss of seventeen killed and twenty-seven danger- 
ously wounded, and seven shot between wind and water. 
It was no wonder, for Badiley's method of fighting was 
severely English. Such was his fire discipline that he would 
not allow a single great gun to be discharged till he rang 
' his ship's great bell,' with the result that his shot never 
missed, we are told, but tore great holes in the Dutch- 
men's sides and wrought havoc on board with the 
splinters.^ Two or three ships took Van Galen's place, 
and Badiley was as hard put to it as ever. The 'Phcenix,' 
instead of keeping her station astern, had forged ahead, 
and when she tried to go about to his relief managed, 
though she was one of the smartest and handiest frigates 
in the service, to fall foul of a heavy Dutch ship, and 
having no forecastle for her men to retire to, was immedi- 
ately taken.- ' There must have been great carelessness,' 
wrote Badiley, ' to say the least.' But he was so badly 
shut in that he could not move to her rescue. As even- 
ing fell, two of the enem^ had lost their mainmasts, they 
had nearly two hundred killed, and, as the English Admiral 
said, 'they seemed out of breath.' There was cause 
enough. Bart and Swart, the two captains who had 
grappled Badiley, besides another called Haen, were killed ; 
Van Boer, the vice-admiral, who had got across his bows 
to rake him, had been very severely handled ; and Cornelis 
Tromp, who had followed his old chief to the INIediter- 
ranean, had to abandon his ship next day. The Dutch 
themselves admit they were forced to let go, and thus 

' Gibson's ''Reminiscences,^ Gardiner's First Dutch War, i. 18. Gibson 
confirms Badiley's formation as being in line ahead by giving the order of 
the ships. 

* See Captain Wadsworth's letter in Badiley's Ansivcr, p. 90. 


during the night, by the help of his oars and his boats, 
Badiley wao able to follow his naerchantmen.^ 

There was nothing else to do. The ammunition of all 
his captains was almost expended. In his own ship he 
had twenty-six killed and fifty-seven wounded, including 
all his chief officers. He had received in his hull some 
fifty shot, many of them betw^een wind and water, and 
his rigging was cut to pieces. Yet he saved his ship 
and his convoy, and by daylight next morning all his 
squadron, except the * Phoenix,' was in Porto Longone. 
The Dutch made a threat to follow, but a few^ shots from 
the Spanish batteries persuaded them to be content with 
the important victory they had won. Moreover, judging 
by the state of Badiley's shot lockers, their ammunition 
must have been no less exhausted, and, ill-manned as they 
were, their crews must have been decimated. Conse- 
quentl}^ no further attempt was made to molest the 
Knglish vessels. At first Badiley did not reahse the 
meaning of his defeat. He barely regarded it as such, 
and believed that, if the Spanish Governor of Porto Lon- 
gone only held true to his neutrality, he could soon 
achieve some means of joining hands with Appleton. 

Longland saw more clearly. He knew^ the man 
Appleton was, and knew^ how active Van Galen had been 
to increase his force by arming merchantmen. When it 
was known at Leghorn that Van Galen and Badiley were 
in contact, Longland had urged Appleton as strongly as 
he could to put out and fight the four ships that were 
blockading him. But, although the Dutch crews all told 
did not outnumber those of his two navy ships, and though 
two of his convoy offered to join him, he w^ould not stir, 
because, as he said, he w^as ill, nor would he suffer his 
officers to go without him. Had he tried, a junction 
might almost certainly have been effected in Porto 
Longone. As it was, all Longland could do was to use 
his best diplomatic means to secure the neutrality of 

^ The details of the action are taken from Badiley's despatches in S.P. 
Dom. xxiv. 125, i., and from various letters and affidavits printed in Apple- 
ton's Remonstrance, and Badiley's Answer, and in La Vie de Corneille 
Tromp. Gibson also gives a picturesque account in his ' Beminiscences,' ubi 


Badiley's port of refuge. But that he knew was Httle 
enough. ' I hope,' he wrote to the Navy Committee, 
* God has directed you to a better protection, without 
which this will soon vanish, for the enemy is master of 
the sea, by which way alone Captain Badiley's wants 
must be supplied. . . . Except this fleet of Dutch be 
destroyed there will be no trade for our nation in the 

As a matter of fa.ct he need have been in no anxiety 
about Spanish neutrality ; for already an event had 
happened which could only confirm Spain in her friendly 
attitude and by which France earned the reward of the 
piratical conduct of her officers in the Mediterranean. 
The naval situation at the moment was as follows. The 
bulk' of the Spanish fleet under Don John of Austria was 
before Barcelona supporting the efforts of Philip's army 
to recover it from the French. The Chevalier de la 
Ferriere had got to sea with the Toulon squadron, but 
the force he had been able to raise was quite inadequate 
for the relief of Barcelona without the assistance of the 
Dutch ; and, though there was no chance of this being 
given, they were being allowed in Proven9al ports every 
facihty for furthering their efforts to drive the English 
out of the Mediterranean. The bulk of the French naval 
force was with Yendome on the Atlantic seaboard. Having 
completed the organisation of his fleet in Brest, he had 
swept southward and driven from before Eochelle a com- 
bined squadron of Spaniards and French Frondeurs who 
were there to give countenance to its rebellion ; and having 
thus secured his r€ar he had gone northward to relieve 
Dunkirk. On September 1 the fleet was driven into 
Dieppe by a gale, and three days later Vendome, who had 
gone ashore, was roused from his bed with a message 
from the besieged port that unless relieved in three days 
it must capitulate. His larger ships were still under 
refit and unable to move, but he promptly sent to sea 
the whole of his transports and store ships under escort 
of eight of his smaller men-of-war. Next day, as they 
were passing Calais, they sighted Blake's fleet, sup- 
posed to be on the look-out for Tromp ; but to their 


intense surprise he bore down on them, captured seven of 
the eight men-of-war and most of their convoy, and carried 
them to the Enghsh coast. Next day Dunkirk capitu- 
lated, and Spain had recovered all she had lost in the days 
when France had dominated the Mediterranean. 

Blake's startling action had been suggested by the 
Spanish Ambassador. He had pointed out to the English 
Government the opportunity Vendome's attempt w^ould 
afford for pressing their reprisals upon the French King's 
own ships, since they too had been guilty of attacks upon 
English merchantmen within the Straits. To this day 
the French can only speak of it as a felony. But, by all 
the laws of war, a state of general reprisal existing, it 
was technically lawful, and in view of what was going on 
in the Mediterranean it is hard to deny its justice. For 
two years or more France had refused to recognise the 
Commonwealth, and had treated it as a pirate power, 
whose commerce w^as fair game for any one. She had 
sheltered Eupert and saved him. At this very hour she 
was further tearing her pretended neutrality by allowing 
Van Galen openly to use her Provengal ports as a base 
of attack against the Commonwealth officers. By what 
right or reason could she complain ? The blow was hard, 
but she brought it on her own head. Nor did it end there. 
Vendome's concentration at Brest, which Blake had 
robbed of its fruit, had left Don John supreme in the 
Mediterranean. La Ferriere could effect nothing, and a 
month later Barcelona had shared the fate of Dunkirk.^ 

' The Council of State expressly defended their attack on French 
navy ships on the ground that French navy ships had seized English 
merchantmen (Guizot, i. App. xx. 5, and Gardiner, Commonwealth, ii. 130.). 
Dr. Gardiner at first was inclined to believe there was no evidence of this, 
but subsequently called attention to the complaint of the Levant Company 
in 1G49 [S.P. Dom. p. 11) of injuries done them by the 'French Fleet 
within the Straits,' which he assumes must mean a fleet of the French 
royal navy. To this evidence we may add a despatch of Longland's of 
May 1-10, 1652, in which, in anticipation of Blake's action, he suggests 
attacking a fleet of French navy ships that ' are arming for the relief of 
Barcelona, and are commanded in chief by Captain Ferere ' (i.e. La Ferriere), 
' a famous thief that has done much mischief to our nation in burning the 
" Talent " and taking other ships, and now intends the like ruin to any of 
our ships ' {S.P. Dom. xxiv. 11). La Ferriere, according to the editor of 
Mazarin's ' Letters,' is often mentioned in them ' comme charge d'un com- 

1652 J3ADILEY AT ELBA 223 

The blow brouoiht Mazarin at last to his senses: 

bat while he was hastening his preparations to get an 
embassy over to recognise the Commonwealth, the 
Spanish Ambassador was doing his best that open war 
should come of it. It was no wonder then that all went 
well in Porto Longone, and that Badiley remained on 
excellent terms with the Spanish Governor. Under his 
wing communication between Elba and Leghorn was 
easy enough by way of the Spanish ports on the Tuscan 
coast. Longland came round to consult with Badiley, 
and Cox w^ent to Leghorn to take over the command of 
the 'Bonaventure,' whose captain had just died. But 
nothing could be got out of Appleton, who remained as 
inert as ever. Instead of improving, the situation grew 
worse and worse. The Dutch being in command of the 

mandement maritime a Toulon ' [Lettres de Mazarin, v. 52, n.). The 
' Talent ' and her cargo were valued at 60,2G0Z., and on proof thereof the 
Council of State authorised the Admiralty Judges to issue letters of marque 
and reprisal to that amount on January 9, 1650, On the same day 
similar letters were authorised to two other firms, members of the Levant 
Company, for 9,83Sl. and 32,762Z. {Dom. Cal. 554). Following this on 
April 25, when Popham was about to sail to join Blake oS Lisbon, he was 
invested with powers of letters of marque, and instructed to seize ' such 
ships and vessels of the French King or any of his subjects as you shall 
think fit' (Thurloe, St. P. i. 144). The Levant Company, it appears, did 
not act on their letters of marque. When they complained of the blockade 
of their ships at Leghorn, they were asked why they had not done so, and 
they replied that they could not afford it ' in respect of our late and many 
losses by the French fleet ' {Dom. Cal. 3G0). In view of 'the repeated use 
of this expression, and the fact that the Levant Company's ships were 
more than a match for any ordinary privateers, the conclusion is almost 
irresistible, apart from the other evidence, that the damage had been done 
by the King's navy. But Colbert, in his minute on the subject drawn up 
in 1650, actually admits that this was so (Guizot, Hist, de la Rip. Anglaise, 
vol. i. App. XV.), and suggests two different grounds of excuse. The King's 
ships, he says, attacked English commerce, either when his oflScers were 
serving under a Stuart commission (and the King could not refuse his 
cousin leave to give such commissions) ; or else when serving under his own 
flag, but then only because the aggrieved merchantmen refused to submit 
to a search for Spanish goods. It is to be observed, however, that when 
Gentillot was sent over to negotiate an arrangement, although his instruc- 
tions admit the attacks by French navy ships, they do not direct him to 
excuse them on the ground of resistance to ' the right of search.' This 
would look as though the facts would not bear out the defence Colbert had 
suggested {ibid. App. xvii. 465). It is noteworthy, moreover, that it was 
equally absent from Bordeaux's instructions and Louis XIV. 's letter of 
December 2, 1652 {ibid. 512-16). 


sea were able continually to increase their force by taking^ 
up merchantmen, and by the middle of September they 
had twenty sail available. To add insult to injury, they 
had brought the captured ' Phoenix ' into Leghorn, and 
were busy careening and refitting her, under Appleton's 
nose, as an addition to their fleet. Longland tried to 
persuade Appleton to seize her, but he objected that it 
would be a violation of the neutrality of the Grand Duke's 
port. Efforts were then made to follow the Dutch example 
and persuade the English merchant captains to prepare 
their vessels as men-of-war, but they still refused to take 
the responsibility unless he could show authority from 
the Government to take them up. So there was nothing 
to do but try to keep the Tuscan Government in a good 
temper till a relieving fleet arrived from England. 

Owing to an epidemic at Genoa, communication wdth 
the Korth was very difficult, and it was not apparently till 
nearly six weeks after the action at Monte Christo that 
the Council of State heard of their Mediterranean officers' 
distress. They immediately ordered their thanks to be 
sent to Spain and to the Governor of Porto Longone, and 
Blake was directed to detach twenty ships from his fleet 
to rendezvous at Portsmouth and proceed to the Straits 
under the command of Captain Peacocke. Blake had just 
defeated De With and De Euyter off the Kentish Knock, 
and it was believed the campaign was over for the year. 
So far the English had had almost uninterrupted success 
against the Dutch, and to all appearance a squadron for 
the Mediterranean might easily be spared. Blake by no 
means took this view, and kept urging the Government to 
keep him in fighting trim. So great, however, was their 
confidence and financial embarrassment that he pleaded 
in vain. The result was all that Blake feared. In a 
couple of months Tromp, who had been recalled to the 
command, was out again with the Bordeaux convoy, and 
finding Blake, as he passed down Channel, in greatly 
inferior strength, inflicted on him a sound defeat. Then 
at last the Government awoke to the gravity of the 
situation. Clearly every effort must be concentrated on 
regaining the command of the Channel, and Peacocke 


was promptly ordered to rejoin Blake's flag with his 
twenty ships. 

Meanwhile Badiley, in ignorance as yet that he had 
been abandoned, had not been idle. At the end of October 
he had received an order six weeks old, appointing 
him Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, and he 
acted immediately. Having obtained permission from 
the friendly Governor to erect batteries ashore for the 
protection of his vessels, he made all snug, and then took 
a felucca to Leghorn. He had heard that the bulk of the 
Dutch fleet had sailed westw^ard, leaving only six vessels to 
blockade the port, and he meant under his new authority 
to bring out the ' Leopard ' and * Bonaventure ' at all costs. 
In the blockaded port he found all at a deadlock. The 
ships were not provisioned, and the officers w^ere at logger- 
heads. Cox's temper could not brook Appleton's refusal 
to permit an attempt to recover the * Phoenix,' and Appleton 
had dismissed him his ship. Longland was no less dis- 
gusted with the commodore's inertness, but Badiley soon 
made a change. Showing his new commission to Appleton, 
he restored Cox to his command, and ordered Longland to 
get two months' victuals into the navy ships ; but before 
he was ready the Dutch had thirteen ships outside, and 
he could not move. So back again he went to Elba, 
convinced it w^as impossible for the two squadrons to 
effect a junction till help came from England, or at least 
until Longland had succeeded in a negotiation he had 
set on foot to get hold of some of the English private 
men-of-war that were in the Venetian service. 

One step, however, he had taken before leaving 
Leghorn which was destined to have the gravest results. 
When he had first conceived the idea of cutting the 
' Antelope ' out of Helvoetsluys, the Earl of Warwick had 
assured him that no act of hostility would violate the 
neutrality of a foreign port provided no fire-arms were 
used to disturb it. There could, of course, be no higher 
authority on such a point than the Lord High Admiral 
of England, and Badiley, to whom the sight of the 
* Phoenix ' being refitted by his enemies was as torment- 
ing as it was to Cox, had given his fiery captain leave to 

I. Q 


surprise her if he could do so quietly. Moreover, as he 
assured the Council of State, quite in Nelson's vein, he 
was sure that v^^hen they gave him strict orders to respect 
the Grand Duke's port, they could not have contemplated 
that the smartest frigate in the service would ever be in 
Dutch hands. There were, of course, great difficulties in 
the way ; but when one day Cornelis Tromp, who had been 
given command of the * Phoenix,' put to sea and returned 
with a fat English prize and her national colours traiUng 
under his stern. Cox could hold his hand no longer. It 
happened that the morrow was St. Andrew's day, when it 
was the custom for the Dutch skippers to give a feast to 
their Italian friends. The drinking was probably un- 
usually deep over the new prizes, and in the dead of night 
Tromp suddenly found himself boarded on each side by 
three fisher boats. He had barely time to discharge his 
pistols and leap overboard out of his cabin window before 
Cox — for it was he — and the lieutenants of his own and 
Appleton's ships were in effective possession. The crew 
were forced below ; the moorings were cut ; and she was 
soon standing merrily out to sea through the midst of the 
blockading squadron. For two hours Dutch and English 
fought like fury between decks as she sped away from the 
two frigates that vainly gave chase ; but at last all w^as 
quiet. Eresh and clean as she was, she easily outsailed her 
pursuers, and nothing more was heard of her till a message 
came from Cox to say he was safe in Naples.^ 

It was a smart and well-judged piece of work, with a 
smack of the practical joke which appealed to the Floren- 
tine sense of humour. At first the Grand Duke seemed 
unwilling to take the matter very seriously. The whole 
thing had been done beyond the range of his batteries, and 
by the English not a shot had been fired. ' It seems,' 
wrote Badiley, ' the Great Duke, upon first hearing what 
was done upon the " Phoenix " frigate, smiled and said the 
Turks had taken her out of the midst of the Dutch fleet, and 
not the English,' and his Highness was further pleased to 

* Gibson, in his account of the exploit, says that Tromp shot Appleton's 
lieutenant dead as he was breaking open the cabin door, and that this was 
the only loss. 


banter the indignant Dutchmen on the excellent watch 
they kept. Unfortunately Appleton in a moment of ill- 
timed energy spoiled the game. A Dutch spy had been 
discovered in one of the English ships and had leapt over- 
board to swim ashore. Appleton followed in a boat, and 
just as the man reached the shore he tried to arrest him. 
The sentry interfered and called the guard, and in the 
altercation that ensued Appleton so far forgot himself as 
to strike one of the musketeers. It was more than the 
Grand Duke could endure. He sent for Appleton and 
had him arrested at Pisa, but finally was induced to hand 
him over to Badiley, with whom the Duke was still on 
excellent terms, on condition that he w^ould keep him 
under arrest. So the affair ended, but its ill-effects 
continued, and they were seriously increased when the 
news of Blake's defeat came in, and it was known that 
Badiley could no longer expect assistance from home. 
Moreover, Tromp, after his victory, had proceeded as 
far as the Isle of Rhe off' Eochelle, and it was be- 
lieved he meant to detach a squadron into the Straits. 
The Dutch force there had already grown to some 
thirty sail ; there was a credible report that Prince 
Kupert was coming to command them ; and it became 
clear to the Duke that, unless he got rid of his un- 
welcome guests, his port could not remain much longer 

Longland and Badiley redoubled their exertions to 
meet the expected crisis. Longland had secured six 
ships in Venice and hoped for two more. He had com- 
pelled the Levant Company's merchantmen in Leghorn 
and Genoa to discharge their cargoes and tit as men-of- 
war, and was begging the Council of State to send out 
to him men, even if they could not spare ships. Badiley 
had got the * Constant Warwick ' and the ' Elizabeth ' out of 
Porto Longone, and they were with Cox at Naples ready to 
join hands with the Venice ships so soon as they came 
round. The rest of his convoy he had moved into Porto 
Ferrajo, the Tuscan port of Elba, where he was permitted 
to refit them as men-of-war. This change of base had 
been forced upon him by his hot-headed captains having 


offended the Spaniards at Naples. They had taken a 
Dutch prize, and the Viceroy insisted on having the 
case brought into his own prize court. The captains 
refused, and were consequently arrested and thrown into 
prison, * which,' wrote Longland in despair, ' brings dis- 
grace and contempt upon the Parliament's commanders ; 
and except the Parliament at home resent it in some high 
manner it will grow customary amongst the Italian 
Princes.' ' The necessity,' Longland added, setting his 
finger on the weak point of the whole situation, ' our 
ships are put to for these Princes' ports makes them 
trample upon us.' 

Badiley had now twenty ships if he could only get 
them together, and twice he flew to Leghorn on hearing 
the Dutch had drawn off, but only to find them in force 
again off the port. They had been reinforced by three 
ships from Tromp's fleet and now numbered over thirty 
sail, six of which were lying somewhere off Brindisi to 
intercept the ships that were to come from Venice. 
Badiley's idea, since his captains at Naples had been set 
free on his demand, was to concentrate his own squad- 
ron at Porto Ferrajo, and endeavour, if it pleased God 
to open a way, to release the ships in Leghorn and then 
go to meet the Venice ships at Messina. He meant to do 
his best, but felt bitterly that he had been neglected. 
' Some assistance,' he wrote to the Navy Committee, 'is 
most necessary, not only in respect of the honour of the 
nation .... at a place, which may be called the centre of 
trade and upon which is the eye of all Europe ; but it is 
reported that Prince Eupert may be here eveiy day with 
his prizes from the West Indies, and if he comes before 
our conjunction the disorders our mariners may be put to 
cannot be foreseen.' Such a warning must have sounded 
very much like a threat ; but Badiley was true as steel, 
though he did not refrain from pointing out that in the 
early stages of the war, when General Blake and Sir George 
Ayscue's fleets met, they might have sent him aid and 
had his squadron back in time for the late battle. 

It was in the last days of Febuary 1653, after endless 
heartburnings over Cox's exploit, that the end came, and 


Badiley received an ultimatum from the Duke that he 
must either give up a ship as security for the restoration 
of the 'Phoenix' to the Dutch, or else clear his war ships 
out of Leghorn within ten days. It was a hard alternative, 
but Badiley did not flinch. Ill-manned and badly placed 
as he was, and smarting as he did at the way he had been 
abandoned, he could not bring himself to admit the un- 
lawfulness of what he had done, or to lower the lofty 
tone he had taken over the honour of his flag. So, coolly 
and with a full appreciation of what it meant, he chose 
the harder way, and resolved to shake the dust of Leg- 
horn from his feet. To this end he immediately repaired 
to his own squadron, which was now again concentrated 
at Porto Ferrajo, to mature his plans. He had there his 
flagship, the ' Paragon,' his three frigates, and four armed 
merchantmen, and in Leghorn were two frigates and 
also four merchantmen. The Dutch at the moment had 
but sixteen sail in their blockading squadron. ' It had 
been better,' wrote Longland, ' if they could have stayed 
for the conjunction of the Venice ships, but Providence has 
otherwise determined.' In any case the Venice ships had 
done their work by drawing off part of the blockading 
fleet. ' I hope,' he added, ' all will be for the best, as 
a better opportunity than this with less odds we may not 
meet with in six months. If God gives us the day, I 
hope Captain Badiley will so husband the business as to 
keep the mastery of the seas, which will be of very great 

There was indeed ground for hope. Even as the 
ultimatum w^as being penned, England was rejoicing over 
the victory which Blake, Deane, and Monk had won in 
the Channel over Tromp's fleet on its return from Ehe, 
and the Navy Committee was writing out to Longland and 
Badiley that the Lord had been pleased to open a door 
for their relief, and that all hands and heads were at work 
to that end. But of this they knew nothing, and had to 
play their own hand. 

On the last day of February, Badiley put out from 
Porto Ferrajo, and from Piombino sent his last instruc- 
tions to Appleton. For at Badiley's request the Grand 


Duke had consented to his arrest being removed in order 
that he might take out the Leghorn squadron. Badiley's 
final idea provided for two alternative conditions of 
v^eather. If the wind were from the sea, and so in his 
favour, he intended to keep to windward of Van Galen, 
and, so soon as the wind came strong, to endeavour to 
break through his squadron and join hands with Appleton, 
who was to be ready outside the Mole to meet him. If 
on the other hand the wind were off shore, so as to give 
the Dutch the weather gage, and Van Galen stood off to 
attack the relieving squadron, then Appleton was at once 
to give chase. In this case it was, of course, of the ut- 
most importance that Appleton should fall on Van 
Galen's rear at the earliest possible moment, and Badiley's 
last words to him were, ' Haste as for your life to follow 
with all sail you can, so that w^e be not too much op- 
pressed before you come.' It was equally important 
that Appleton should on no account expose himself by 
putting to sea till Badiley and Van Galen were actually 
engaged. A council of war had been held at Leghorn, 
at which, in accordance with letters received from Badi- 
ley, this had been very strictly laid down as a condition 
essential to success. But it seems clear that the resolu- 
tion was come to on the supposition that Van Galen 
would not stand off to fight the reheving squadron. Sub- 
sequently it must have occurred to Badiley that possibly 
he would, and it was evidently in view of this possibility 
that at the last moment he gave Appleton the additional 
instruction.^ It does not appear to have struck Badiley 
that his last orders were not entirely on all fours w^ith 
those he had already given, and that they left to Appleton 
the final decision as to what was the crucial moment 
for him to come out. Here was his mistake. Know- 
ing the man Appleton was, it was vital he should leave 
nothing to his intelligence. In the event, however, of the 
wind being off shore, a most important decision was so 
left, and in the result w^e have one more example of the 
absolute necessity of the most exact and unmistakable in- 
structions when a combined operation is to be attempted. 
* Longland to Cromwell, Dom. Cal. Nov. 4-14, p. 243. 


When Badiley appeared off LegborD, the wind was 
blowing from the sea, and he had to content himself with 
keeping the wind of Van Galen. In the afternoon, how- 
ever, it began to blow from the land, but still the Dutch 
did not stir. At nightfall, therefore, Badiley beat close 
in, and unperceived sent orders to Appleton to break out 
under cover of the darkness. It was a splendid chance, 
but at dawn Appleton w^as still motionless. Bitterly dis- 
appointed, Badiley stood to sea again to try to draw the 
Dutch into the open. The wind was still fresh from the 
east, and Van Galen, to Badiley's delight, weighed and 
gave chase. Thinking his moment had come, Appleton, 
in accordance with his instructions, made sail in his wake, 
and then happened the thing which — simple as it seems — 
was apparently beyond Badiley's tactical foresight. So 
soon as Appleton was well under way. Van Galen went 
about and stood back for the mouth of the port. The 
result was a premature action, in which the Dutch admiral 
was able to bring the whole weight of his sixteen vessels 
upon Appleton's six, and Badiley was left hopelessly to 
leeward, little more than a spectator of his colleague's 

Considering how ill-manned were his ships and how 
demoralised his men by their long detention in port, 
Appleton seems to have made a fairly good fight of it. 
It was four hours before all his merchantmen had struck, 
and he himself, he says, held out for six. Only one ship, 
a merchantman, managed to get clear, and join Badiley 
to leeward. The losses on both sides w^ere severe. Those 
admitted by the Dutch were 123 killed, and as many 
w^ounded. Among the latter was Van Galen himself. 
Early in the action he had been hit in the leg by a 
round shot. With some demur he was taken below and 
had it amputated just below the knee. Still he could 
not rest. So soon as the operation was over he called for 
a cup of wine, and, drinking confusion to all regicides, 
insisted on being carried on deck again to direct the re- 
mainder of the fight. It is with regret that one has to tell 
that nine days later he died of his wound, but with a 
reputation his countrymen fully and handsomely recog- 


nised. We can do no less when we remember that the 
crown of his long and brilliant record was that, wdth 
resom'ces at first scarcely superior to his determined 
enemy, he drove the English out of the Mediterranean.^ 

That, and no less, was the result of his clever victory. 
In the face of so complete a reverse there w^as nothing 
left for Badiley but to make good his escape before he 
himself was overwhelmed like his colleague, and by the 
end of March he was clear out of the Mediterranean, with 
all his squadron and convoy and a Dutch prize he took at 
Minorca. Not that he intended to abandon his station 
to the Dutch without a struggle. His ow^n ship was too 
foul, shot-torn, and worm-eaten to keep the sea ; but two 
of his frigates only required cleaning, and these he in- 
tended to send back from Lisbon, ' to amuse the Dutch,' 
as he said, and prevent their sending north any consider- 
able portion of their ships to reinforce their main fleet. 
He himself proposed to go home, change his ship, and beg 
for ten fresh ones, and with this force added to his own 
he believed he could regain his position. His two frigates 
and the ships from Venice would have compelled the 
Dutch to split up their fleet for convoy duty, and he 
would be able to defeat them in detail. 

It was a plausible scheme, but unfortunately his crews 
refused to listen to his orders. They were resolved to 
come home after their long spell of service. Badiley was 
powerless to oppose. He'had to give up, and in May with 
the whole of his mutinous squadron he was back in the 

At the Admiralty he found a new spirit in the ascen- 
dant. After Blake's defeat and his protest against the 
inadequate force with which he had been furnished, the 
Government had determined to fill up Popham's vacant 
place, and join Deane and the new man with Blake in the 
active command in accordance with the original scheme. 
The new man was General George Monk, whose recent 
brilliant and thorough work in the pacification of Scot- 

' For further details of the action, see Mr. Spalding's exhaustive study 
of the ^Yhole episode in his monograph on The Life and Times of Richard 


land had justified Cromwell's high opinion of his abilities. 
The choice is highly significant, for it confirmed absolutely 
the military influence. Monk was the typical soldier of his 
time. Unhke Blake or Popham or Deane, he had been a 
soldier all his life. Born of a knightly and ancient family in 
Devonshire, war was bred in his bone. When still a boy 
he had served in Cecil's disastrous expedition to Cadiz, and 
again in Buckingham's fiasco at Rhe. Since then he 
had fought and studied under the Dutch flag in the Low 
Countries with ever increasing distinction till he be- 
came captain-lieutenant of the crack English regiment in 
the service, and so it w^as under his hard hand that all 
the most brilliant of the gilded youth of England were 
schooled into soldiership. At the outbreak of the domestic 
troubles in his own country, he had come home with an 
unrivalled reputation as an expert soldier. Deeply versed 
in the science of his profession, and with all the traditions 
of the art of war ingrained in him like a second nature, 
he brought to bear upon the problem of the hour a broad 
conception of the mihtary exigencies of the case un- 
clouded by political considerations and undisturbed by un- 
essential details. His talent for warlike administration 
was no less pronounced. He had learned it in the finest 
school in Europe, and the directness and homely shrewd- 
ness of his methods carried all before him. Politically 
his simple creed was to be true to his commission and 
his paymasters. In the civil war he had had to choose 
between them. He chose his commission and served the 
King, and though he had been taken prisoner in his first 
action and lodged in the Tower, no pressure which the 
Parliament or his personal friends could bring to bear in 
order to secure his services could move him till the war 
was over. Then, in accordance with the code of the pro- 
fessional soldier, he considered himself free and frankly 
took service with the Commonwealth. Such was the 
man who from now onw^ard was to dominate the navy 
for many a year to come. 

His first taste of true naval warfare had been in the 
late victory over Tromp, w^here he had commanded the 
junior squadron. He was now^ with Deane in active 


command of the main fleet, since Blake had been wounded 
and was still incapacitated. On the Mediterranean pro- 
blem his influence is at once visible. After the victory, 
which had absorbed the original squadron destined for the 
Straits, a fresh one w^as quickly set on foot at Portsmouth. 
Deane and Monk did not approve. In what had happened 
in the Mediterranean they read before everything an 
emphatic warning of the importance of concentration, 
and told the Government so plainly. Though they were 
preparing the new squadron according to their orders, they 
doubted the wisdom of sending it, and even took upon 
themselves to suggest that the whole design should be 
reconsidered in view of the fact that Badiley was coming 
home. They were of opinion that the squadron could 
be employed to greater advantage by cruising in touch 
with themselves in the mouth of the Channel to intercept 
the Holland trade. There can be little doubt they were 
right. The pressing need of the moment, before any real 
use could be made of the Mediterranean, was to crush 
the Dutch sea power, and the way to do it was to con- 
centrate every available ship upon their main fleet and 
the converging points of the commerce on which their 
national vitality depended. For a while, however, the 
Government insisted on their view ; but after Cromwell's 
coup d'etat on April 20, by which he practically became 
dictator, no more was heard of the new Straits squadron. 
It was finally absorbed in the great fleet with which, in 
the famous two days' battle off the North Foreland, Monk, 
deprived of his colleague at the outset by a round shot, 
but with Penn and Jordan for his flag officers, defeated 
Tromp, De Ruyter, and De With. The victory was far 
from deciding the war. The Dutch w^ere soon ready for 
sea again, and, eluding the blockade which Monk had 
established, were able to concentrate in the North Sea a 
fleet more powerful than ever. The great four days' 
battle followed, in which Monk was again victorious, 
and Tromp lost his hfe. But even then, so desperate 
had been the fight, the English admiral was unable to 
establish a working command of the sea, and it was 
impossible to spare a squadron for the Mediterranean. 

1654 • END OF THE WAR 235 

There the Dutch had to be left in undisputed control, and 
the war dragged on till Cromwell became Protector and, 
much to Monk's disgust, put an end to it in the spring of 
1G54. The Dutch sea power was not entirely crushed. 
The general conditions rendered such an end impolitic. 
So peace was made on terms which, without destroying 
Holland as a potent Protestant power, insured to England 
a real maritime supremacy — a supremacy which, among 
all its other advantages, left her free to pursue her inter- 
rupted policy within the Straits. 



With the close of the Dutch war the Protector in 
undisputed sway found himself with the destinies of 
England in his lap and his hands free to shape a foreign 
policy. Having firmly established the new Government 
at home, his remaining task was to make it respected 
abroad, and force the powers to abandon the Stuarts. 
The policy he pursued to this end is one of the knottiest 
points in English history. It has baffled the gi-eatest 
historians, as it baffled the most astute of his contem- 
poraries, to unravel completely its shifting intricacies, to 
reconcile its apparently changing aims. For our present 
purpose, however, it is unnecessary to push inquiry very 
far. For the student of English action in the Mediter- 
ranean it is in this very uncertainty that its main interest 
lies. It was in the Mediterranean that he found the chief 
means of executing his bewildering changes of front, and 
whichever way he faced for the moment he had always 
there a point in his position which seemed to outflank 
and dominate any force his opponents could bring into 
line against him. 

When the Protector looked abroad, the chief factor in 
the European situation was the struggle between France 
and Spain, which was the last relic of the Thirty Years' 
War, and which still continued to fill Europe from end 
to end with unrest. So deep and widespread were the 
interests involved that every state had to shape its policy 
more or less closely in relation to the great centre of dis- 
turbance, and there was not one that did not see its 
future for good or evil to some extent bound up in the 
outcome of those interminable campaigns. From year 


to year the advantage shifted, and no one could foresee 
the end. This alone was clear, that, if any power should 
arise to sway the balance definitely to the one side or the 
other, it would be acclaimed as the controlling force in 

It is then no matter for wonder if Cromwell's instinct 
quickly assured him that in intervention in that great 
struggle his foreign policy must speak. Three leading 
ideas are clearly recognisable in the maze in which he 
seemed to move. They answered exactly to the three 
leading motives which had actuated English foreign 
policy ever since she had become a great power. First 
there was the religious idea — that his mission was to 
become the leader of a great Protestant coalition, and 
finally stay and stifle the counter-reformation. It was 
of this too that James had dreamed in his feckless way 
when he first sent a fleet into the Mediterranean. This 
idea in its integrity would of course involve not mere 
intervention, but war with both the exhausted combatants. 
Secondly, there was the commercial idea, which meant 
a revival of the Elizabethan war, having for its aim the 
opening of the New World to British trade and the with- 
drawal of British subjects from the jurisdiction of the 
Inquisition in Spanish ports. The adoption of this idea 
involved war with Spain and an alliance with France. 
Finally there was the national idea — the determination 
to lift England once more into the position from which 
she had fallen, and to take vengeance for the insult 
and contumely which had been heaped upon her ever 
since she had been a republic. France in this had been 
the arch-offender by her piratical treatment of English 
commerce and her protection of the Eoyalist cause. 
It w^as a view consequently that seemed to point to an 
alliance with Spain. 

The position was one which the two belligerents 
were quick to realise. Both France and Spain saw 
clearly that the controlling force had arisen, and each 
was bidding higher and higher for its good will. In the 
Spanish Netherlands the Archduke, in appealing to his 
subjects to raise the money which Cromwell was de- 


manding as part of the price of his ahiance, put it frankly 
enough. * At last,' he proclaimed, * God, who is accus- 
tomed to act by ways inscrutable to men, has raised up 
a human power that can make the scales incline to the 
side of peace by putting a finger ever so lightly upon 
them. ' ^ As far as human eyes could see, it was no less 
than this that was at stake : whichever belligerent could 
secure the English alliance would be in a position to 
dictate terms to the other. 

With the game thus completely in his hand it was 
natural that Cromwell shouJd be in no hurry to decide 
which card to play, until he saw clearly which line would 
best achieve his several aims. Moreover, a fresh Koyalist 
rising in the Highlands gave a further cause for delibera- 
tion. So for the time the diplomatists held the field 
and Cromwell spread around him a web of negotiation 
which for intricacy and instability neither Elizabeth nor 
James ever surpassed. Still diplomacy without some 
hint of action would not avail. It was this that had 
brought James's well-meant efforts into contempt, and 
Cromwell was no man to fall into the same error. Yet, 
if action must be taken, it must be action that threatened 
both France and Spain alike. The solution was simple 
and ready to hand. It was clearly a situation that lent 
itself to the Mediterranean treatment, and Cromwell's first 
step was to set about preparing a fleet for the Straits. 

The importance which he attached to the move is 
testified by the fact that Blake was selected for the com- 
mand. The cruise that followed is one of the most 
famous in EngUsh naval history. Eegardless of all that 
led up to it, many have even come to acclaim it as the 
beginning of the English action within the Straits. 
Legends grew up about it, as they did round Drake ; and 
Blake has been credited with exploits which modern 
research has shown to be without foundation. Men 
came to believe that there was scarcely a potentate 
within the Straits that did not feel the weight of his arm, 
that the Pope himself cowered in St. Angelo at the 
thunder of his guns. The truth is that what he accom- 

' Gardiner, Commomoealth and Protectorate, ii. 465, May 1654. 


plished by force of arms was almost nothing, and the 
reaction tends to treat the cruise as of small importance. 
Yet the old mythical view is the true one. Those 
legendary achievements are but the index of the place 
which the cruise held in men's minds at the time, the 
echo of its deep moral effect, and they mark for us more 
clearly than the most exact chronicle the opening of men's 
eyes to the true meaning of Mediterranean power to 

The actual intention of the expedition still remains a 
crux for historians. The original idea is clear enough. On 
the conclusion of the Dutch war there was a debate in the 
Council on the disposal of the magnificent fleet of a hun- 
dred and sixty sail that was then in commission. The 
project most favoured was the conquest of the Spanish 
West Indies. The main objection w^as that it would involve 
the loss of our trade with Spain and endanger that to the 
Ijevant. To this it was answered that hostilities would 
necessarily be confined to the West Indies, for the English 
trade was of so much importance to both Spain and 
Flanders that Phihp could not allow the war to spread 
to Europe. The idea that you might attack the 
colonial possessions of a power just as you could make 
reprisals on her ships without a general state of war 
arising is strange enough to our ears, but it was only 
that on which England and Spain had mutually acted 
ever since the commencement of what are now usually 
called the piratical operations of Drake and his fellows. 
The argument was sound enough, but it was met by the 
objection that, even if the proposed expedition did not 
lead to war, the Mediterranean trade would still lie open 
to Spanish reprisals. To this it was rephed ' that that 
wall not prove so ; for, having peace with France (which 
must be supposed upon this war), w^e shall have the 
benefit of their friendship and harbours upon the Medi- 
terranean Sea, which are much more useful for us than 
the Spaniards ' — that is to say, we should be in a position 
to protect the Levant trade by a fleet acting from French 
ports. Thereupon it was proposed to allot forty sail for the 
Channel, eiojht each for the Scottish, Irish, and Newfound- 


land stations, thirty for the West Indies, and sixteen for 
the Straits, the rest being paid off. Here then is the 
germ of Blake's famous fleet. It was originally designed 
to protect English commerce in the Mediterranean while 
the Spanish West Indies were attacked.^ 

Before it sailed, however, its true intentions, as we 
shall see, became much more of an enigma. Blake's 
final instructions have never been found. They remain 
in the obscurity with which they were religiously veiled 
at the time. The latest and best authority believes that 
the admiral had none at all, except some vague directions 
to act against the Barbary corsairs and generally to pro- 
tect the English Levant trade. ^ 

This is almost certainly the truth. He was sent, as 
Mansell was sent a generation before, under the time- 
honoured veil that had long ago been worn transparent. 
He was to act as Mansell was to act on such instructions 
as should subsequently reach him. He was sent as 
Mansell was sent and as our Mediterranean squadron is 
maintained to-day as the symbol of English power, and to 
be ready at the controlling point for any eventuality. Of 
all this it is impossible that there should be any direct 
evidence; but everything becomes clear if, in the light 
w^e have of all that had gone before, we trace the 

• Clarke Pajjers, vol. iii. App. B. p. 205. 

2 See Gardiner, iii. 373 n. The orders he there refers to are copied into 
the Entry Book of Car. II., No. 4, p. 17 under the impossible date of July 
1656. It should be, he says, July 22, 1654. There is, however, a difficulty in 
assigning this date. The entry runs, ' On receiving these instructions, you 
shall with the fleet under your command sail with the first convenient wind 
and weather unto Algiers.' Now on July 22, 1654, Blake had no fleet under 
his command. He did not hoist his flag till August 10 (Weale's Journal, 
Sloane MSS. 1431). The orders further authorise him, in case the 
Algerines refuse the demands he is charged to make, ' to assault them by 
land or sea, and fight with and slay all persons opposing you.' Now on 
March 14, 1055, Blake at Cagliari wrote complaining that he had no such 
authority. His general instructions limited him to blockading the corsairs' 
ports for a few days, and he asked for express authority to attack their ports 
(Thurloe, iii. 232, and see j^ost, p. 270). It is clear therefore that these 
instructions must be subsequent to his request of March 24, 1655. In all 
probability they were the answer he got, and the true date is the summer of 
1655. So far then as the entry is to be trusted, it is evidence that Algiers 
was not his original objective, but rather an afterthought, when the suc- 
cess of his attack at Tunis was known. 


growth of the idea in the minds of Cromwell and his 

Ever since Badiley's defeat Longland had not ceased 
to urge the impoitance of a Mediterranean squadron. 
When he heard of Monk's final victory over the Dutch 
he redoubled his importunity. It was not merely a 
question of protecting commerce, he said, but it meant 
' many other advantages in relation to France, Spain, and 
Barbary.' Getting no response, he showed how such a 
squadron as he desired might maintain itself without any 
expense to the state by reprisals upon the rich Levant 
trade of France. Apart from every other consideration, 
as he further urged, so contemptuous had the neighbour- 
ing Princes grown since the Dutch had been left in 
undisputed mastery of those seas, that a fleet was abso- 
lutely necessary to bring them to reason. 

His well-reasoned importunity, poured into the ears 
of Cromwell's ministers with ever increasing vehemence, 
cannot have been without its effect, supported as it was 
by the lamentations of the powerful Levant Company. 
It is even probable that it would have led to action before 
the conclusion of the Dutch w^ar but for Monk's opposi- 
tion. Cromwell's trust in the wide capacity and judgment 
of his new admiral was daily increasing, and he, as we 
have seen, was opposed on the broad principles of his 
art to any weakening of the main fleet till that of the 
enemy was completely crushed. Events showed the 
justness of his view. For the pressure he brought to bear 
at the vital point soon compelled the States to recall their 
squadron from the Straits. But even then Longland's 
importunity did not cease. Since the Dutch had gone, he 
said, the French had become worse than ever. English 
commerce seemed to be held fair game for everybody, and 
a squadron was more necessary than ever to restore ^ 
English prestige. 

The despatch in which he insisted on this view reached 
London early in April 1654, just after the peace with 
Holland was signed, and indications at once appear that at 
last he was to be heard. Before the month was out the 
Council of State, as we have seen, had practically decided 
I. R 


in principle on a Mediterranean squadron. Mazarm had 
taken alarm and was writing to Bordeaux, his Ambassador 
in London, that he was to keep him well informed as to 
the ships that were to be detached from the main fleet. 
In spite of the peace there was no cessation of naval 
activity in the English dockyards, and half Europe was 
anxiously asking where the blow was to fall. The Grand 
Duke of Tuscany promptly trimmed his sails for a storm 
in the old quarter. In the last days of the war the Dutch 
had sunk a British ship within the limits of his port, and 
he now seized two of their vessels as security that repara- 
tion should be made to the injured owners. In every 
exchange in Italy the coming of the English fleet was 
the subject of anxious discussion, and most people saw 
in Cromwell a new and more terrible Gustavus Adolphus, 
and were sure it was Civita Vecchia, the Pope's ovvn 
port, that would first feel the smart. 

But of all men Mazarin had the gravest cause for 
concern. He had again got a working hold of France ; 
but Conde, the leader of the rebellious opposition, was in 
communication with the Protector, and an English fleet 
at Bordeaux or Kochelle could easily stir the smouldering 
embers of insurrection into a new flame. Worse still, 
there was the prospect of Blake's being able to deal him 
such another blow as had robbed him of Dunkirk. For 
Mazarin was once more reviving his old Mediterranean 
policy. Since it had broken down four years before, 
Spain had been making steady progress in both Italy and 
Catalonia. But the Duke of Guise was now free again, 
and Mazarin had resolved to use him for a second bold 
bid for the domination of the Two Sicilies. In Toulon a 
powerful expedition was being prepared, and Monsieur 
de Nieuchese, who was in command of the French Ocean 
squadron at Brest, was under orders to carry every avail- 
able ship to join it at the earliest possible moment. Nor 
was this all. This time the attempt w^as to be supported 
by a powerful coalition. Savoy was already engaged. 
Genoa, which was in a state of sullen anger with Spain, 
was being pressed to join and accept a French protectorate. 
It was also hoped that, as before, the new Portuguese 


kingdom, in return for France securing its recognition by 
the Pope, would contribute a powerful contingent to the 
fleet. Lastly, the Papacy itself was to be persuaded to 
seize the opportunity of throwing off the oppression of 
Spain. As Longland got wind of the design, he kept 
sending home news of its development. He knew by 
this time that the fleet he had been praying for was 
coming, and he pointed out the splendid opportunity it 
afforded for England to exert a mastering influence. 
Every one said — so he wrote — that, before such a coalition 
as Mazarin was forming, Spain would not survive in Italy 
without the Protector's help. So keen was he for action 
that he had taken steps to secure an accurate list of the 
Toulon fleet, and begged that it might be handed to Blake 
or Badiley.^ 

Meanwhile at home the idea of a Mediterranean fleet 
had been growing. Neither France nor Spain would 
come to terms, and on June 5, in secret sitting of the 
Council of State, it was resolved that a fleet of twenty- 
four ships should be prepared ' for the Straits ' and 
another of fourteen for the ' Western design.' ^ Thus 
the Mediterranean squadron had risen to the first place 
instead of being, as it was originally, inferior to that 
which was to operate in the West Indies. No reason 
appears for the change. We can only note that it was 
contemporaneous with the discovery of a plot against the 
Protector, in which the Baron de Baas, who had been 
specially sent over by Mazarin to smooth his relations 
with Cromwell, was supposed to be implicated ; and, 
further, that the period of active preparation which 
immediately followed coincided with the Protector's last 
efforts to induce France to join in a Protestant coali.ion 
against Spain and with his ultimate conviction that he 
must take his own course. 

As Blake's fleet gathered life, Mazarin grew feverishly 
anxious. Neither Guise nor Nieuchese was ready to sail, 
and he kept petulantly pressing and taunting them to be 
gone. At the same time Longland's suggestions grew 

• Longland's despatches are in Thurloe, ii. 
2 Dom. Cal. p. 200. 

B 2 


more ambitious and strangely tuned to the Protector's 
new note. The Toulon fleet, he said, was still in port, not 
daring to sail for fear of Blake, and then came a hint that 
opens up a startling vista of possibilities. We have seen 
already how keenly he felt the weak point of England's 
position in the Mediterranean, and how he lamented to 
see her dependent on the Itahan Princes for a base. Now 
he saw Genoa hesitating between the two dominations 
that never ceased to threaten her, and the old dream of 
Ealegh's time revived in his active mind. Of all states, 
he said, Genoa was the least prepared for war. Though 
rich, her wealth lay solely in commerce and finance, and she 
could not even feed her population from her own territory. 
He knew her weakness, he knew her temptations, and he 
knew her splendid harbour. From where he was he could 
see all, and he looked and longed. * They have the best 
port in Italy,' he WTote, when he knew Blake was about 
to sail. ' I wish it were in the hands of others that have 
more occasion for it.' In Cromwell's tangled negotiations 
with France and Spain, while each was threatened by a 
gathering fleet, from each was demanded the conquest of a 
continental port as the price of his goodwill. From Spain 
he would require Calais, from France Dunkirk. Yet of a 
port within the Straits, where, in view of the strained re- 
lations with France, it was now far more necessary, not 
a word was said. As far as we know, Longland's hint fell 
dead. Yet it is strange that, seeing how the navy men 
felt the necessity, and how little Cromwell's dreams of 
continental action were limited by practical difficulties, 
the seed did not ever show some sign of growth. The 
actual adverse occupation of Genoa was of course out of 
the question, but it is by no means clear that some 
arrangement might not have been come to, by which the 
desired ends would have been achieved in a more peaceable 
way. A naval protectorate, for instance, would have freed 
Genoa from the domination of both Spain and France, 
and in return she could well have afforded to cede or 
lease to England a port in Corsica. Such an arrange- 
ment would have secured Cromwell's position in the 
Mediterranean better perhaps than any step he could 


have taken. Nor could a more favourable moment have 
been looked for to open negotiations. It was at this time 
that the fear of a league between England and Spain was 
holding Genoa back from France, and she was about to 
make advances to the Protector for a close commercial 
aUiance, and that with an eagerness which leaves little 
doubt she was prepared to pay a very high price to turn the 
stream of English trade from Leghorn to her own quays. 

Whatever might have come of it, it is unfortunate that 
a suggestion, which seemed so exactly to hit the exigencies 
of Cromwell's position, did not reach London in time for 
it to be turned to even diplomatic advantage. Before it 
was received Blake had started, and the situation appeared 
to have taken definite shape. Though the Marquis of 
Bordeaux was still in England, the negotiations with 
France were practically broken off. In spite of the 
' Western ' squadron, which w^as still being brought 
forward at Plymouth, Spain seemed to have it all her 
own way, and Mazarin's anxiety redoubled for the 
success of his Neapolitan venture. At the end of July 
Blake's squadron was gathering in the Downs and Guise 
had not yet even left Paris. On August 1 Mazarin, 
losing all patience, wrote him a sharp letter saying that, if 
he did not embark within ten days, the King would divert 
the expedition to another object. That very day the 
gay young Duke set out, and a week later Mazarin was 
assuring him that, if he would only sail immediately, the 
reinforcements he required to bring his force up to the 
promised strength should follow him at once.' At the 
same time he was bringing all his weight to bear upon 
Genoa to press her into his design, and assuring her that 
as yet there was no league between England and Spain. 
Nieuchese in Brest was being scolded as roundly as Guise, 
and being angrily told that if he did not get to sea at once 
he would find his passage into the Mediterranean barred 
altogether.- Mazarin at any rate had little doubt that the 
first object of Blake's fleet was to frustrate Guise's design. 

Though Cromwell's intentions were still uncertain, to 

' Lettres de Mazarin, vi. C07, 610, 613. 
2 Ibid. 591, 598, 608. 




\J outward appearance he had practically cast in his lot with 
Spain. On August 5, only a fortnight after he had finally 
made up his mind to prosecute his design against the West 
Indies, he wrote to Philip to say that Blake was about to 
sail for the Mediterranean to protect English commerce 
and begging the hospitality of his ports.' On August 10 
Blake hoisted his flag in the Downs, with Badiley for 
vice-admiral, and Jordan, who was one of the new and 
most brilliant reputations of the Dutch war, for the 
second flag-officer. By the 25th he was at Plymouth, 
and Mazarin was still pressing Guise to get to sea and 
reprimanding Kieuchese for his delay more testily than 
ever. After one ineffectual attempt to get out of the 
Channel, which lost him ten days, Blake finally got away 
on October 8, and after looking into Lisbon, presumably 
to see whether there was any sign of the Brest division 
having put in there or of a move from the Portuguese 
fleet, he passed on his way.^ 

Mazarin's anxiety was now extreme. For all his 
pressing, Guise had only got to sea a fortnight before 
Blake finally cleared the Lizard, and Kieuchese w^ith the 
Brest division was still at his moorings. Xo sooner did 
the harassed minister know that Blake had really gone 
than he told Bordeaux he must find out what his destina- 
tion w^as. A week later this despatch was followed by 

' Debate in the Protector's Council, July 20, 1G54, Clarlie Papers, 
iii. 207. 

2 The dates and main details of Blake's cruise, except where otherwise 
stated, are taken from Weale's Journal {Sloane MSS. 1431). Weale was 
an officer in the ' Amity ' friga,te. 

The list of his fleet as given by Penn (vol. ii. 150), and corrected from 
Weale's Journal and Blake's despatches, was as follows, besides two or 
three auxiliary or store vessels : 







3 second . 

4 third . . 

' George ' . 

' Andrew ' 
' Unicorn ' 

' Langport ' 
' Bridgewater ' . 
' Worcester ' 
' Plymouth ' 









Robert Blake, General 
John Stokes, Captain 
Piich. Badiley, Vice-Adm. 
Jos. Jordan, Rear-Adm. 

Eoger Cuttance 
Anth, Earning 
William Hill 
Bich. Stayner. 




instructions to demand peremptorily from the Protector 
what orders Blake had ahout dealin,£]^ with French ships, 
and to ask for his passports if he did not receive a satis- 
factory answer.^ At the same time Lonis himself WTote 
to Nieuchese at Brest, teUing him that Blake had sailed for 
the Mediterranean, and that he was to put to sea at once 
in order to get ahead of him and join the Chevalier Paul, 
who was in command of Guise's fleet, before the English 
appeared. ' I am sure,' said the King, ' that if you and 
Paul are only together, when they meet you, they will 
not dare to attack, and that under commanders so brave 
and experienced as you and Paul it will not be easy to win 
any advantage over my forces.' There w^as still more 
anxiety in what followed. ' I have written to-day,' he 
added, ' to the Sieur de Bordeaux, my Ambassador in 
England, to demand of the Protector an explanation in 






11 fourth . 

' Hampshire ' . 



Benjamin Blake 

' Foresight ' 



Peter Mootham 

'Kent' . 



Edw. Witheridge 

' Taunton ' 



Thos. Vallis 

' Diamond ' 



John Harman 

' Ruby ' . 



Edm. Curtis 

' Newcastle ' 



Nath. Cobham 

• Amity ' . 



Henry Pack 

' Maidstone ' 



Thos. Adams 

' Princess Mary ' 



John Lloyd 

' Ehas ' . 



John Symonds 

3 fifth . . 

' Mermaid ' 






Wm. Kendall 


' Sophia ' 



Bob. Kirby 

3 bixth . . 

' Hector ' . 



' Dolphin ' 



John Smith 

' Nonsuch ' Ketch 



In Penn's list the ' Success ' and ' Sophia ' appear as above, but in the 
main fleet list of 1653, under the same commanders, they are given as 
38-gun frigates with crews of 150 and 160 men. In Derrick's list of 1652, 
from the Pepys Miscellany, the ' Success ' appears as a fourth rate with 150 
men. Presumably she was the French prize ' Jules,' which Blake had taken 
in 1651. Blake, in his despatch of March 24, 1655, speaks of having with 
him the 'Mermaid,' a 24-gun fifth rate with 90 men. It is not in Penn's 

' Lettres de Mazarin, October 21-26 (o.s.), pp. 373, 378. 


writing of the manner in which his fleet is to behave 
to mine, giving him to miderstand that I have no fear of 
an action if it has to be fought, but that I would gladly 
avoid any incident which may prevent the nations enjoy- 
ing an assured repose and disturb their commerce. It is 
your duty to avoid a meeting with the English fleet, but 
if by chance you fall in with it, I doubt not you will 
maintain the position {les avantages) that is due to me. . 
. . . Perhaps, and I desire it should be so, the Protector 
will make such an answer to the Sieur de Bordeaux that 
the fears I have suggested will vanish.' ^ 

So far from Bordeaux receiving the explanation he 
was instructed to demand, he could not even obtain an 
audience ; and yet, instead of his taking his leave, the 
negotiations for an alliance were reopened. The fact is 
that, situated as France was, and in spite of Turenne's 
recent successes on her northern frontier against Conde 
and the Spaniards, she could not face a British fleet in the 
Mediterranean ; and while Blake's flag was flying Mazarin 
felt himself compelled, at almost any cost, to keep the 
peace with the Protector. Blake's fleet was the trump 
card of the game. It was dangled before his eyes like a 
bait to lead him on, and whenever he tried to seize it, it 
was snatched away, and fresh concessions demanded. 
' When I reproach them,' wrote Bordeaux the day after 
Blake had joined the fleet, ' that at previous conferences 
they have offered, in return for a subsidy of two million 
livres, to maintain twenty vessels in the Mediterranean 
to support our designs there, they tell me that these were 
only conversations, which were not binding.' In vain 
Mazarin thus tried again and again to get the card into 
his own hand, and again and again was forced to submit 
to fresh humiliations for fear of seeing it played a^^ainst 

Meanwhile Blake, with his flag flying in the ' St. 

' ' Archives de la Maison de Nieucbese,' November 6, 1654 (n.s.), cited by 
Jal, Du Quesne, i. 212. 

'^ Bordeaux to Brienne, November 13-23, 1654, Thurloe, ii. 724, and same 
to same, p. 731. Mazarin to Bordeaux, December 28 (o.s.), Guizot, ii. App. 
xiii. p. 490. Instructions to Bordeaux, July 6-11, ihid. p. 460. Bordeaux 
to Brienne, August 11-21, ihid. p. 479. 


George ' (or * George ' by her puritanical name), a ship of 
sixty guns, had appeared before Cadiz and anchored off Kota 
at the point of the bay. Besides smaher vessels he had 
twenty ships and frigates, the smallest of which carried 
twenty-four guns. All had been specially sheathed for a 
long cruise in the Mediterranean,^ and Blake had the ball 
before him. The Governor sent off to invite him to enter 
the harbour, but Blake replied that he was bound with all 
speed for the Straits. The fact was that he had found the 
English charge d'affaires awaiting him at Cadiz with infor- 
mation that four days previously nine French war ships had 
passed, making for the Straits. Fearing that he had missed 
Nieuchese, he contented himself with handing to the 
Governor Cromwell's letter to Philip, and at once carried 
on in chase. Of his immediate business he made no 
secret, and far and wide through Europe spread the news 
how the admiral had openly proclaimed that his mission ^ 
was to fight the Duke of Guise wherever he found 1/ 

Every one believed the Duke was doomed. Having 
finally sailed from Toulon in the last days of September, 
he had met with baffling gales, that broke up his fleet and 
delayed him so long that sixteen days out he had to water 
as best he could at the southern end of Sardinia. Driven 
from his anchors by a gale, he was forced almost under 
the Spanish guns at Cagliari, and there had to wait a 
week, hoping to get touch with his galleys which he had 
entirely lost. After all he had to sail without them and 
proceed on his w^ay round Sicily in a sadly crippled condi- 
tion.^ For his design w^as not to trust again entirely to 
the fickle population of Naples itself, but to land some- 
where in Calabria or Apuglia from the Gulf of Taranto or 

• Domestic Calendar, p. 229, June 29, 1654. 

^ ' Lettre du Conite de Molina,' Guizot, i. 488. Mazarin to Bordeaux, 
Januai-y 2, 1G55 (n.s.), ibid. 490, and Thuiioe, iii. 41. Mazarin mentions 
Blake's ' boast,' but Molina merely writes that 'people say be is in chase of 
the French tleet.' 

^ ' Eelation de tout ce qui s'est passe au voyage de Naples, par M. le Due 
de Guise,' in Beciieil Historiqiie, Cologne, 1660, 12mo. This is a despatch 
which Guise wrote from ' Cap de Corse, December 17, 1654,' on his retreat 
to Touloa. 


the Adriatic.^ In this way he hoped to meet the cavalry 
which was to join him from the north, raise the country 
people against their Spanish masters, and approach the 
capital from the rear hke a conqueror. So hickless how- 
ever was he with the weather that, after vainly trying to 
double the southern cape of Sicily for three days, he had 
to bear up to Malta for shelter and water. There, how- 
ever, to his high indignation, he received a shotted salute 
from the Spanish knights, and had to run back in despair 
to Favignano, an island at the west end of Sicily. It 
was in Spanish hands ; but the garrison abandoned the 
forts that protected the anchorage, and he was able to 
water in peace. By this time, however, his provisions 
were running so short — this at least is the reason he gave 
— that he felt it useless to continue his original plan and 
resolved to proceed direct to Naples. This he did, and on 
November 4 he landed and occupied Castellamare in the 
south-east corner of the bay. 

At the same time Blake entered the Straits, and 
heard at Gibraltar fresh news of the Brest squadron. 
It had not yet passed in, and he spread his frigates to 
get touch with it. Three days later Stayner, one of the 
smartest officers in the fleet, and some other captains 
came in to report they could see nothing of Nieuchese, 
and Blake, with a sharp reprimand, promptly sent them 
out again. '^ From the manner in which the narrator 
insists on Blake's anger with the offending officers we 
may detect another indication of his bracing influence on 
the navy. Ever since the birth of the new art inefficient 
cruising had been its curse, and it would seem that 
Blake had determined to turn a new leaf. No doubt, 
according to the custom of the sea, his captains thought 
they had done their duty, and were surprised at their 
reception. But what was good enough for them was not 
good enough for a man trained in the art of war on land. 
Step by step the soldiers were lifting naval w^arfare to 

^ Longland and other intelligencers believed him to be going to land in 
Apuglia from the Adriatic, but in his ' Relation ' {ubi supra) he himself only 
mentions Calabria. 

2 Weale's Journal. 


a science, and there is little doubt that from this 
momentous sojourn of Blake in Gibraltar Eoad we may 
mark, in addition to its other consequences, another stride 
upon the upward way. 

But for all his vigilance and discipline the days w^ent 
by and not a sign of the enemy appeared. Days grew 
to weeks, and the most critical period of Blake's 
cruise, when Guise was actually at work in Naples Bay, 
was slipping by, while he clung in forced inaction to the 
station he had chosen. He could not know the man 
Nieuchese was, or the orders Louis had given him. 
Nieuchese had interpreted them only too faithfully. 
Finding, as it would seem, that Blake was before him, 
and mindful of his instructions to keep out of his way, 
he had put back into Lisbon, and there was quietly 
cleaning his ships. It was nearly three weeks before 
Blake knew this, and was convinced it was no use 
waiting. On November 21 he at last resolved to pass on, 
and after touching at Malaga and Alicante he stood 
across for Sardinia. He reached it on December 4, and 
at Cagliari heard that Guise had been there. ^ Whither he 
had gone no one could tell, but four days later intelli- 
gence came in that he was at Naples. On this hot scent 
Blake weighed without a moment's delay, and in three 
days was beating into the bay. But, high as had been 
his hopes, it was too late. Not a French ship was to be 
seen. The prey was already flown, and Blake had to 
fume under the first of those close chances of which 
England's record in the Mediterranean is so full. 

Having seized Castellamare, Guise had proceeded to 
improve his holding. After a stubborn resistance and 
considerable loss, Torre Annunciata, a work on the 
Naples side, fell ; but there his success ended. In vain he 
tried to seize the neighbouring mills, on which depended 
his only chance of feeding his men. The Spaniards were 
too strong, and the reckless plundering, which he was 

' Weale in his Joiuiial says that on December 4 they heard Guise had 
been there twenty-nine days before — i.e. November 5. But at this time he 
was at Castellamare. Guise himself says nothing of having been at Cagliari 
a second time. Weale therefore seems to be mistaken in the information 
Blake actually received. 


unable to control, effectually turned the inhabitants 
against him. The intendant of his army reported but a 
week's provisions left. There was no help for it — so 
Guise thought — but to let go and return to Toulon for 
his promised reinforcements and fresh stores. In a week 
the whole force was embarked again. For a fortnight 
more, while Blake was still clinging to Gibraltar, the 
w^eather held the French fleet where it was at the mercy 
of a resolute attack. ' If he (Blake),' lamented Longland, 
when eight of Guise's retreating ships had put into 
Leghorn, ' if he had not stayed at the Straits mouth, 
but come directly for Italy, he had found all the French 
fleet in a pound in Naples Bay, where he might have 
done what he would with 'em ; but all will be for the 
best.' ' 

There was certainly much truth in his godly resig- 
nation. Had Blake been in time the real significance of 
his cruise would not have fallen into the oblivion which 
has so long obscured it. Seeing the condition of 
Guise's fleet and the veteran material under Blake's 
command, a great victory must have recorded the object 
of the campaign indelibly. But as it was the work was 
done without shedding of blood. For the second 
time the feather-headed Duke had courted disaster, and 
shattered Mazarin's dreams of Mediterranean power. 
How far Blake's presence had contributed directly to 
the miscarriage it is difficult to say. The failure was 
mainly due to Guise's irresponsible determination to 
abandon his original intention of landing in Calabria. 
At a blow it upset Mazarin's elaborately laid plans, and 
threw the Duke back on trusting once more to the 
disaffection of the Neapohtans. Though Guise himself 
says nothing on the point, we know how nervous the 
French authorities were about the English Mediterranean 
squadron, and we may be sure that Guise's fatal step 
was largely due to the fear of being shut into the 
Adriatic by BJake. Nieuchese's continued delay in 
joining was no doubt the immediate cause, but this delay 
was also the result of Blake's action. His interposition 

' Thurloe, iii. 12. 


at Gibraltar between the two French squadrons had in 
fact rendered both of them impotent. Nor must it be 
forgotten how important was the moral support of his 
presence to the other side. In every Italian seaport the 
rumour was that Cromwell's admiral was coming to 
assist the Spaniards. It did everything to restore 
their failing prestige, and must have materially assisted 
the Viceroy of Naples in securing as he did, by timely 
concessions, the loyalty of his restless subjects. 

However this may be, Blake's presence put an end to 
all hope that the attempt could be renewed. When, on 
December 7, Guise WTote from Cape Corso in Corsica to 
announce his retreat, he appears fully to have expected 
that he would be sent out again. He w^as not going to 
allow a man to land, he said. He meant to be ready to 
act the moment he received his orders. But, however 
sanguine the Duke might be, Mazarin was under no 
illusions. Though in his letters he tried to make light 
of his failure, setting against it Turenne's successes 
on the northern frontier, it is clear he felt his prestige 
had suffered a severe blow, and that his great design 
was dead beyond present recovery. Blake himself did 
not fail to emphasise the situation. Having ascertained 
at Naples, where he was accorded a brilliant reception," 
all that had taken place, he did not let the grass grow 
under his feet. Leaving one or two vessels behind him, 
presumably for intelligence purposes, he gave chase to 
Guise with the bulk of the fleet. But he was just too 
late. On December 20 he looked into Leghorn. Eight 
French ships had put in there, but for fear, as some said, 
that Blake would get between them and Toulon, they were 
already gone, and he had to learn that the whole force 
was safe in its own ports. For Guise to stir out again 
with Blake where he was, was not to be thought of. 

It was clearer than ever that, before France could make 
any real progress in the Mediterranean, she must come 
to an understanding with England. So, in spite of all 
the provocation Louis had received, Bordeaux was told 
to defer his departure and use the delay in a fresh effort 
to bring the Protector to reason. The negotiations 


therefore continued as before, but with as Httle success. 
Cromwell could not but feel the enhanced advantage 
of his position, and Bordeaux was as little able to 
conceal the increased eagerness of his master for a treaty. 
Louis conceded ever3^thing but the claim of England to 
intervene on behalf of French Protestants, and on this 
point the Protector was equally determined to insist. So 
the condition of reprisal, that was scarcely removed from 
war, continued. Blake was not recalled and remained 
to carry out the original intentions of his commission. 

Though it is on the remaining incidents of the cruise, 
real and imaginary, that its fame has rested, they are 
insignificant beside that part of his operations which 
closed with the dispersal of Guise's force. The story of 
his having at Civita Vecchia exacted from the Pope an 
indemnity for having allowed Rupert to sell prizes in the 
Papal ports is without foundation. A similar tale in 
relation to the Grand Duke of Tuscany is traceable to a 
Genoese source. Their Ambassador Extraordinary was 
at this time in London, pressing the Protector to conclude 
a reciprocal commercial treaty by which the subjects of 
each state should be on equal footing with those of the 
other. Their main object was, as we have seen, to divert 
the British trade from Leghorn to their own port. But 
the envoy did not fail to point out that while such a treaty 
would be of great benefit to the Genoese state and its 
independence, England would also gain by it in other 
ways. ' It would also,' he wrote to Cromwell, ' be useful 
and beneficial to the English nation for the many and 
obvious reasons which, without doubt, will be in the mind 
of your most serene Highness.' ^ 

There seems in the words a suggestion such as Longland 
had hinted at some months before, that Genoa might 
become for the English navy what she had so long been 
for that of Spain. But it led to nothing. Though 
Cromwell entertained the idea, the merchants were loath 
to desert Leghorn ; and though the Genoese never lost 
an opportunity of offering their hospitality to the English 

' Thurloe, iii. 118; Gardiner, History, iii. 37-1-6, and see also his note 
on ' Blake at Leghorn ' in Eng. Hist. Review, xiv. 109. 

1665 BLAKE AT LEGIIOllN .255 


fleet, English trade remained faithful to the Medici. So 
far from quarreUing with the Grand Duke, Blake met 
with a cordial welcome, and, in spite of the activity of the 
Genoese, his visit served to knit still more closely the 
remarkable sympathy that had so long existed between 
the English and the Florentines. If any satisfaction 
was needed it was amply afforded in the full liberty which 
Blake was allowed to refresh his fleet for the completion 
of the work which yet lay before him. Still there were 
reports that the French fleet at Toulon was coming out 
again, and he would not leave his dominating position 
until he had learned for certain that Louis had ordered 
his ships to be laid up for the winter. Discouraged by 
his complete failure, the King was going to content himself 
with sending out privateers. * And so,' wrote Blake 
complacently, ' there will be no further stop to our 
proceedings from Trapani.' ^ 

» Despatch, Add. MSS. 9304, f. 99. 



The proceedings to which Blake referred were those 
which had been made the pretence for sending him to 
the Mediterranean. Well had they served Cromwell's 
turn, and his Admiral had now leism^e to attend to them. 
By a dramatic turn the duty before him carries us back 
to our starting point. We have traced step by step how 
the germ planted half a century before by Ward, the 
English mutineer, had worked with ever widening effect 
till it had changed the whole conditions and meaning of 
Mediterranean power. With an English fleet dominant 
in its waters and no rival navy in a position to dispute its 
command we see the revolution consummated, and the 
first use England was to make of her new power was to 
strike at the point where the j/i'egnant seed had been 
sown. Tunis was Blake's objective, and on January 15, 
1655, he sailed from Leghorn for Trapani to meet the 
ships he had left at Naples. With the exception of four 
frigates which he had detached to watch the Balearic 
islands for French privateers on the trade route, and a 
ketch left behind at Leghorn to bring on letters from 
home, his whole force was with him.^ 

It was likely to be wanted, for Blake had before hi^n 
an undertaking not unlike that which he had just 
abandoned for the time, and which was similarly calculated 
to mark the new domination. But now it was a still 
more momentous struggle in which he was about to 
intervene — the ceaseless pressure of the East upon the 
West. Concurrently with the contest between France 
and Spain for the command of the Western Mediterranean 

» Despatch of March 14, 1G55, Add. MSS. 9304. 


a still fiercer one had been raging for the command of 
the Eastern half. Ten years previously it had commenced 
by the sudden descent of an overwhelming Turkish force 
upon Crete, which still formed part of the Venetian 
empire. The new storm was yet another outcome of 
the Thirty Years' War. While Christendom was absorbed 
in the internecine strife it was inevitable that the Moslem 
should seize the opportunity to push further westward 
into the Mediterranean. It w^as again Venice who was 
left to bar the way, and the Sultan had determined to 
drive her from her ancient possessions of Crete, as he 
had driven her from Cyprus. 

The war naturally turned upon the command of the 
sea, and Venice had chartered a number of English 
ships to reinforce her navy. It was some of these that 
Longland had induced her to spare for Badiley's relief. 
There were reasons why scarcely any sacrifice could to 
too great to win the goodwill of the Commonwealth. 
Kealising the tremendous issue at stake, she had sought in 
every Court in Europe to induce the combatants to aban- 
don the fratricidal struggle, but hitherto in vain. From the 
small Papal navy and the Knights of Malta alone had 
any assistance been forthcoming ; and, seeing herself left 
almost alone to fight the battle of Christendom, she rose 
to the occasion with all her old heroism and resource. 
Though Canea, the westernmost part of the island, fell an 
easy prey, Crete was far from conquered. Year after year 
the struggle had gone on at the sacrifice of innumerable 
lives and treasure untold. In Mocenigo Venice had found 
a commander worthy to stand beside the greatest of her 
great names, and under his daring and sagacious leader- 
ship the Candiote war, as it was called, was made to 
glow as one of the brightest chapters in her annals. Still 
it was all she could do with her enfeebled resources to 
hold her own, and so soon as the Commonwealth was 
revealed as a new force in Europe she apphed to it for 

It was some time, however, before she could wipe 
out the ill-effects of her unhappy patronage of the Stuart 
Court, and from the Long Parliament she received little 
h § 


encouragement. With the change of Government, how- 
ever, she took fresh hope, and not w^ithout reason. It 
v^as a cause which appealed strongly to Cromwell's 
crusading spirit, and for a time he seems to have doubted 
whether this was not the right way to use the power 
which God had given him. He told the Venetian resident, 
at his first audience in January 1654, that he had every 
desire to assist the Republic, which he considered the 
buckler of religion against its most powerful foe. Later 
in the year, when an Ambassador Extraordinary arrived 
on the same mission and diplomatically stirred the 
Protector's religious zeal, he replied that the generous 
defence offered by Venice against the common foe laid 
every Christian Prince under obligations to her ; that he 
himself had often felt the pricks and goad of zeal for the 
service of God, and that, if the embassy had only come 
sooner, it might have found the conjuncture more favour- 
able to its objects.^ 

But high as was the obligation under w^hich Venice 
had placed the Commonwealth by granting Longland's 
request, and strongly as her appeal moved a man of 
Cromwell's nature, there were two insuperable difficulties 
in the way of a war with Turkey — one, the opposition 
of the powerful Levant Company, which was alarmed 
for its Turkish interests, and the other, the West Indian 
adventure, on which Cromwell had already decided to 
embark. It is possible of course that, in spite of these 
objections, he gave Blake to understand he might do 
w^hat he could, but of this there is no trace. It is more 
probable that at Leghorn the admiral, with his ardour 
only whetted by having missed Guise, found the local 
influences irresistible. All Italy was ringing with the 
latest exploits of Mocenigo and mourning his death. 
Isolated with a few ships in the midst of a great Turkish 
fleet off the Dardanelles, he had fought his way clear, 
deahng such destruction around him that it took the 
Capitan Pasha a month to get his fleet fit for sea again. 
But, in spite of Mocenigo's heroism, a Turkish fleet had 

* H. E. Brown, Venetian Studies, p. 370 et se^* 


been able to get through to the relief of the army in Crete, 
and he had died, men said, of a broken heart. 

It is easy to understand how Blake's chivalrous spirit, 
burning as it was to do some deed that should make the 
name of England resound through Europe, longed to take 
up the dead admiral's sword and strike a blow for the hard- 
pressed Republic. At Leghorn, moreover, it could not be 
forgotten how, in spite of her necessities, Venice had con- 
sented to release the English ships in her service at 
Badiley's calk What half promises Longland may have 
made to secure such a concession we cannot tell ; iDut, as 
Badiley himself was there as vice-admiral of the tleet, the 
two of them could easily have persuaded Blake that some 
return was called for. Authority or no authority, a blow 
for the relief of Candia was in the spirit of the h'gh pur- 
pose for which he had been sent out, and in the spirit 
which inspired Cromwell's foreign policy as he had re- 
cently declared it. * God,' said the Protector in silencing 
Lambert's objections to an aggressive line of action, ' God 
has not brought us hither where we are, but to consider the 
work that we may do in the world as well as at home.' 
It was a sentiment entirely in accord with Blake's nature, 
and, as though from Heaven, a chance was offered him in 
a manner and of a nature that he was no man to resist. 

His resolution was as sudden as it was heroic. On 
January 15, on the eve of sailing from Leghorn, he had 
written home to say he was going to Trapani to pick up 
his detached frigates, and so to Tunis or Tripoli as seemed 
best on the spot. That up to this time he had no very 
definite orders is clear. Feeling the importance of his 
presence in the Mediterranean, he begged that victuals 
might be sent out to him, so that he might keep his sta- 
tion ' so as to be ready,' as he said, ' for any service 
which the Providence of God or instructions shall 
lead us unto.' ^ He had hardly got to sea when, though 
the weather had promised thoroughly fair, he encountered 
a furious gale which for three days kept his whole fleet in 
constctiit peril of being cast away among the islands off 

» Add. MSS. 9304, f, 99. 

s 2 


the Tuscan coast, and finally drove him back to Leghorn. 
His faith was sorely tried. ' It hath pleased God,' he 
wrote in describing the catastrophe he had escaped, ' to 
exercise us with variety of wind and weather, and with 
divers mixed providences and strange dispensations never 
to be forgotten by us, especially in regard that He hath 
been pleased in them all to rouse His compassion to pre- 
vail against His threatenings, and His mercy to triumph 
over His judgment.' ^ In this frame of mind he received a 
piece of information which under the circumstances can 
only have seemed to him like the finger of Heaven. 

News had just come in that the war-ships of all 
the Barbary states from Algiers to Tripoli, the flower 
of the Moslem marine, were to concentrate at Tunis on 
February 12 for the Sultan's service against Crete. The 
war had long focussed round the siege of Candia, the 
Venetian capital of the island. Mocenigo's line of strategy 
had been a vigorous offensive with the fleet, whereby he had 
established a command of the ^gean Sea, and contmually 
menaced the Turkish possessions that lay upon its waters. 
In this way he had rendered their communications with 
the besieging force in Crete in the last degree precarious, 
and at the same time compelled the Sultan to dissipate 
his strength in innumerable garrisons. In the present 
campaign the Venetian fleet was to act in two divisions — 
one blockading the Dardanelles and the other laying siege 
to Malvoisia in the Morea, the Turkish advanced base of 
supply for Crete. Under these circumstances it is clear 
that, if the Turkish army before Candia could receive relief 
from the Barbary side, the task of the Venetians would be 
seriously complicated, while, on the other hand, if Blake 
could succeed in crushing the combined fleet of the tri- 
butary states, he would give the Venetians the practical 
ordering of the campaign. ^ How could he hesitate ? In 
the whole conduct of his life he was a zealot of childlike 
faith, whose every utterance shows that an intimate com- 
munion with the Deity was as real a thing to him as it 

' Add. MSS. 9304. f. 101. 

2 Daru, Hist, de Venise (ed. 1853), vol. v. cap. i. Blake's despatches of 
March 14, 1655. in Add, MSS. 9304 and Thurloe^ iii. 232. 


was to Cromwell. Left practically to his ow^n initiative, he 
had been trusting, as we have seen, that the Providence of 
God would lead him on, and he can no longer have doubted 
the purpose of the gale which had driven him back to 

Full of this great intention Blake lay chafing at his 
moorings till the end of the month. When at last, on 
January 31, the weather permitted him to get clear, he had 
thus less than a fortnight in hand, and, ill-provisioned as 
he was, he determined in his impatience to make a dash 
straight for his objective without calling at Trapani for 
supplies as he had intended. So rapid was his movement 
that in a w^eek he was before Tunis, but it was only to 
encounter another disappointment. The first thing he 
learnt was that his information was false. There w^as no 
concentration, and the chance of the resounding exploit on 
which he was bent was gone. Still the simple words of 
his despatch which cover his disappointment leave no 
doubt of his intention, and he must be given all credit for 
the high purpose he had formed. It was the true Nelson 
touch, and nothing in Nelson's life marks more indis- 
putably the spirit of the great commander. For such 
men it is not enough to excuse inertness by resting on 
orders that are indistinct, timid, or lacking in thoroughness. 
He perceives the broad stream of policy on which his 
superiors are floating, and dares to show them, even before 
they clearly see themselves, the course they should steer. 
In this great spirit he came near to hurling the new force 
of his country against the East in the old quarrel, and 
raising its fallen name higher in the face of Europe than 
any other means could have achieved. It was prestige he 
was sent forth to seek, and only by some such heroic 
stroke could it be truly won. So it was we see him, full 
of the love of God and his country, raging round the 
Mediterranean to seek a foeman w^orthy of the weapon he 
had tempered, and finding none. 

Still, in spite of his disappointment, a crumb of com- 
fort remained. In the neighbouring Porto Farina, the new 
naval headquarters of the Tunisian state, lay nine war 
ships, and Blake despatched a squadron of four frigates, 


under Captain Hill of the ' Worcester ' (his usual cruiser 
commodore), across the gulf to blockade them. Having 
thus secured the ground, he proceeded with the prosaic 
business on which he had nominally been sent out. His 
actual instructions, so far as we know them, were to demand 
the restitution of a ship called the 'Princess,' with an 
indemnity, and the release of all British captives. It can 
hardly be said that justice was entirely on the admiral's 
side. In 1646 a man called Edmund Casson had been 
sent out by the Parliamentary Government on a mission 
to the Barbary states to negotiate the release of English 
prisoners and a treaty to secure the immunity of EngHsh 
vessels. Such a treaty he successfully concluded with 
Algiers, but his negotiations with Tunis appear to have 
been spoilt by the conduct of an English captain, who, 
having agreed to transport a company of Turkish troops 
to Smyrna, took the first opportunity of selling them to 
the Malta galleys. Another English envoy had done his 
best to secure their release, but the Knights demanded 
a price beyond his means, and the Bey remained rather 
aggravated than appeased. It was but natural then that, 
in answer to the Enghsh demands (although he was ready, 
as he professed, to negotiate a treaty for the future), he 
absolutely refused to give any satisfaction for the past. 

Now Blake's instructions further directed him, 'in case 
of refusal of right, to seize, surprise, sink, and destroy 
all ships and vessels belonging to the kingdom of Tunis 
he should meet.' Such was the authority that EHza- 
beth was wont to give Drake and his fellow admirals, 
and which James gave Mansell. The same doubts 
which had so often troubled them at once arose in 
Blake's mind. Was he, or was he not, entiiled to sink 
the same ships in their own ports ? He could not solve 
the doubt ; but, finding negotiation useless, promptly stood 
across to Porto Farina. The presence of his blockading 
frigates had caused the nine men-of-war to be unrigged 
and disarmed, and hauled close inshore under the castle, 
while other batteries had been erected and armed with 
their guns to further protect them. An entrenched camp 
had also been formed during the blockade ; and when 

lG5o fPtEXCH PRIZES 263 

Blake moved, the Bey marched down and occupied it 
with some thousands of horse and foot. The position 
was thus a very difficult one to deal with — so difficult 
indeed that the Council of War decided that, whatever the 
decision might ultimately be as to how far their instruc- 
tions entitled them to go, it was impossible to attack with 
the fleet in the condition it was. They had but five days' 
drink, and very little bread. It was therefore decided 
to leave six frigates, under Captain Stayner of the 
' Plymouth,' to continue the blockade, and to carry the 
rest of the fleet to Cagliari for supplies.^ 

On February 22, therefore, they sailed, ' meaning to 
give them a more sudden and hotter visit,' and four days 
later anchored at Cagliari. Here they found the four 
frigates that had been sent to cruise round the Balearic 
islands. For their pains they had to show a smart 
French frigate of fifteen guns, called the ' Fame,' and to 
report they had driven ashore and sold to the Governor 
of Majorca another of thirty guns, called the ' Percy,' a 
well-known Enghsh-built ship.^ 

» Blake's despatches in Thurloe, iii. 232, and Add. MSS. 9304 ; Gardiner, 
Commomvealtli, iii. 376 et seq. The frigates detailed for the blockade were 
' Plymouth,' ' Kent,' ' Newcastle,' ' Foresight,' ' Taunton,' and ' Mermaid.' 
As the ' Plymouth ' was the only third rate, I assume Stayner was in 

- This vessel, under the name ' La Persee,' is the subject of one of the 
heroic traditions of the French navy. Her captain was a Knight of Malta, 
named Valbelle, who had served with distinction in the Candiote war and 
had been one of Guise's captains in the late expedition. During the retreat 
before Blake he was hailed by an English ship which had — so the story goes 
— ' the cool audacity to demand a salute, as a right due to the masters of the 
sea,' whereupon Valbelle boarded the Englishman ' with heroic ardour, 
trode the insolent aggressors under his feet, carried off their flag, . . . 
and after frightful carnage made himself master of the enemy's ship. Un- 
willing, however, to embitter too far the relations between the two countries, 
he abandoned his prize on the demand of the English commandant.' 
This story, incredible as it seems, receives some corroboration from Blake's 
remark that she was 'well known,' suggesting she was a marked ship; and 
also from Mazarin's instructions to Bordeaux, wherein he told him to insist 
on the fact as evidence of his goodwill, that Guise had restored an English 
prize he had taken (Mazarin to Bordeaux, January 2, 1655, Thurloe, iii. 
41 ; same to same, January 16, Guizot, ii. App. xiv. 510). All the 
captains of the English navy — so the French story proceeds— were filled with 
extreme irritation at Valbelle's exploit and sought to wipe out the disgrace. 
On February 13-23, 1655, 'a division of four vessels— one of 60 guns and 
the others of 36 to 44— under the Chevalier Banks, found her between 


These two cajDtures brought the tale of French prizes 
np to seven, and after more than a fortnight spent in 
vain efforts to get sufficient bread, Blake had to send the 

* Hampshire ' and ' Maidstone ' frigates to Genoa to get 
more and careen. Two other frigates, the ' Langport ' 
and ' Diamond,' were to return to Majorca on the same 
errand, with orders to sweep the trade route as far as 
Alicante or Cape Palos, and then proceed also to Genoa. 
Thence the ' Langport ' was to bring on what bread had 
been obtained, and the other three were to resume the 
cruising station about the Balearic islands. The final 
rendezvous was to be Alcudia Bay, in Majorca, pre- 
paratory to a demonstration on the coast of Provence.^ 
On March 15, with the rest of the fleet, he w^eighed again 
for Tunis ' to put an end to the business there,' as he 
WTote, ' w^hich we shall endeavour to do with all the 
resolution and circumspection which we can, as God shall 
direct us, it being a business of manifold concernments 
and interests, and subject to divers consequents and con- 
structions.' Seeing the condition of affairs, this was no 
more than truth. While at Cagliari he had received by 
his ketch a letter in the Protector's own hand, giving him 
certain commands. What they w^ere is unknown. The 

Majorca and Cabrera.' Then follows the story of another heroic action, 
in which Valbelle fought all the four ships and finally ran himself ashore, 
and even then so maltreated the nearest Englishman that he forced the 
captain to accept an armistice. The following day the English broke their 
agreement and attacked again. For three days more Valbelle defended 
himself, till finally the Spanish Viceroy, overcome with admiration, allowed 
him and his crew to land without being treated as prisoners of war (Gu6rin, 
Hist. Maritime, iii. 103-5). 

The ' Chevalier Banks ' I cannot account for. The squadron detached 
from Leghorn consisted of the ' Langport,' 50 (Capt. Eoger Cuttance), the 

• Hampshire,' 34 (Capt. Benjamin Blake), the ' Diamond,' 36 (Capt. John 
Harman), and the ' Maidstone,' 32 (Capt. Thomas Adams). Blake's report 
on the ' ^ercy ' affair is that, * not being able to possess themselves of it, 
being also extremely battered and spoiled, they took 3,000 dollars of the 
Governor of that place, who was likewise upon agreement to be at the charge 
of sending home all the French in her, which were 300 in number ' 
(Thurloe, iii. 232). In another despatch {Add. 2ISS. 9304) he says his 
men were about to burn her when the Governor made this offer. On these 
accounts we may safely allow Valbelle the credit of a very fine defence, 
after all allowance is made for the obvious and quite unnecessary exaggera- 
tions and absurdities of the French story. 

' Blake's despatch, March 14, 1655, Add. MSS. 9304. 


despatches accompanying it were dated January 15 and 
29 — just a month after Penn had sailed for the West 
Indies.^ There may therefore have been a warning of 
the coming war with Spain, but the indications are rather 
that it referred to the transport of some horses which the 
Protector had instructed Longland to purchase for him in 
Italy. What Blake had in his mind was almost certainly 
the possibility of his action involving England in the 
Candiote war, and risking the Levant trade with Turkey. 
How grave was his anxiety his action proves. On 
March 21 he anchored again before the Goleta of Tunis. 
Here he received, and, strangely enough, by a French 
ship, another 'great packet of letters,' which must have 
been written early in February. Again, we do not know 
their contents, but on the following day another French 
ship, which had withdrawn into the Goleta, came boldly 
out and anchored in the middle of the English fleet with 
impunity, ' from which,' says an officer, ' we judged the 
General's letters related to a league with France.' As a 
matter of fact, when the despatches were written, Bor- 
deaux was very hopeful about a treaty. In view of 
Penn's expedition against the Spanish Indies, it was 
almost as necessary to Cromwell as to Mazarin. Mazarin 
had declared himself eager for it, and had told Bordeaux 
to dwell on the recent restitution of EngHsh prizes as a 
mark of his sincerity. It is very possible, therefore, that 
Blake at this time did receive orders to suspend his opera- 
tions against French commerce. 

He could thus give his undivided energies to the 

' So the despatch in Add. MSS. 9304. That in Thurloe, iii. 232, only 
mentions the receipt of one dated January 25. The letters dealt mainly 
with the political crisis at home and Cromwell's summary dissolution of 
Parliament on January 22. The Admiral's reception of the news disposes 
of the Koyalist legend that he was politically opposed to Cromwell's 
methods. ' I was not surprised with the intelligence,' he wrote to Thurloe, 
' the slow proceedings and awkward motions of that assembly giving great 
cause to the fact it would come to some such period ; and I cannot but 
exceedingly wonder that there should yet remain so strong a spirit of 
prejudice and animosity in the minds of men who profess themselves most 
affectionate patriots as to postpone the necessary ways and means for pre- 
servation of the Commonwealth. . . . But blessed be the Lord who hath 
hitherto delivered and doth still deliver us.' 


Barbary states. At Tunis the situation was unchanged, 
and he once more sent in the Protector's demands. But 
Blake's movements had only served to harden the Bey's 
heart. * We found them,' wrote the admiral, ' more 
wilful and untractable than before, adding to their 
obstinacy much insolence and contumely, denying us all 
commerce of civility.' They had refused him leave to 
water, and had fired upon his boats, and at last Blake lost 
his patience. ' These barbarous provocations,' says he, 
* did so far work on our spirits that we judged it necessary 
for the honour of our fleet, our nation, and religion, seeing 
they would not deal with us as friends, to make them 
feel us as enemies : and it was therefore resolved in 
Council of War to endeavour the firing of their ships in 
Porto Farina.' The die being cast, he once more retired 
to Trapani with the double object of filling up with water 
and lulling the Bey into security. There he remained a 
week, and on the afternoon of April 3 was back again off 
the port. All was as before. The Tunis vessels were 
still lying under the batteries, a pistol-shot from shore, the 
coast was lined with musketeers, and some sixty guns 
frowned from the castle and works. A final council w^as 
called to consider the formidable task ; but first, in the 
true Cromwellian spirit, they ' sought the Lord by prayer.' 
The answer quickly came. It was to attack and burn the 
ships on the morrow where they lay.^ 

At the first glimmer of dawn the ships began to take 
up their allotted stations. ' The fourth-rate frigates,' we 
are told, ' were first under sail, and went near the castle 
and works.' Captain Cobham in the ' Newcastle ' led the 
way, followed by the rest of the fourth and fifth rates, and 
all came to anchor, says another officer, ' near the Turks' 
nine ships, who lay close to the castle and the forts by 
it.' 2 Badiley, the vice-admiral, in the 'Andrew,' with 

' See a letter, April 9 and 10, from the fleet in a tract called A Book of 
the Continuation of Foreign Passages, 1657, Brit. Mas. E. 1954 (3) 4to. 
The other main authorities are Blake's despatch, April 18, in Thurloe, iii. 
390, and Weale's Journal. An excellent chart and note on the alteration of 
the coast is in Gardiner, Commonwealth &c. iii. 381. 

2 Contiyxuaiion of Foreign Passages. It gives the fullest details of the 
ships engaged. Seven vessels, it says, followed the ' Newcastle,' viz. ' Kent,' 


Stayner in the * Plymouth,' then went in, quickly 
followed by the admiral with the rest of the heavier 
ships, the * Worcester,' * Unicorn,' ' Bridgwater,' and 
'Success,' and then six second and third rates. 'AH 
anchored,' we are told, 'just against the body of the 
castle, within musket-shot, and began to play their 
broadsides.' The whole evolution was performed with 
perfect ease, ' the Lord,' as Blake said, ' being pleased to 
favour us with a gentle gale off the sea, which cast all 
the smoke upon them and made our work the more easy.' 

It will be seen that with the force at his command 
Blake must have been able to develop a fire formi- 
dable beyond any that Mansell had the power to do in 
his similar attempt at Algiers. Still for a time, as they 
said, it was very hot work. As the sun rose, Badiley 
answered the first gun from the castle and the action 
rapidly became general. Soon after the advanced squadron 
was anchored, the ' boats of execution ' put off and, under 
cover of the storm of shot and the blinding clouds of 
smoke, rowed for the dismantled ships. At their approach 
the Tunisian crews sprang overboard and swam ashore. 
The panic spread to the advanced works, and in a short 
time the enemy had all taken refuge in the castle. 
Then one by one the ships were boarded, fires were 
kindled in each of them, and by eight o'clock the whole 
were blazing. By this time the fire of the castle began 
to slacken. ' We played very thick,' wrote an officer, ' for 
four or five hours.' By eleven o'clock it was completely 
mastered, and Blake had marked another point in the pro- 
gress of naval science. 

It was not the first time, as is often said, that a fleet 
had successfully engaged shore batteries. Landings had 
often been covered in this way before, and in 1602, when 
Sir Kichard Leveson and Sir William Monson had 
captured the great carrack in Cezimbra Koad, they had 
done much the same thing. But in these cases it was 
the landing that had led to the evacuation of the shore 
works. The only exception was Cezimbra Eoad, and 

' Foresight,' ' Amity,' ' Princess Maria,' ' Pearl,' ' Mermaid,' and ' Merlin.' 
Weale adds the 'Ruby ' and ' Diamond.' 


there the fleet had been able to work under sail. This 
was the first time that ships had anchored close under 
powerful batteries and almost immediately crushed them 
by sheer weight of meta . For this is what had been 
done. In vain the enemy, as the boats drew off, attempted 
to regain their abandoned works. They could scarcely 
fire a gun. As the frigates began to w^arp out they tried 
to reach their flaming vessels, but a few shots from the 
heavy ships frustrated every attempt. The wind con- 
tinued light, and w^hen the work was done the admiral 
* put out his flag of defiance and the whole fleet warped 
out almost as easily as it had gone in.' The gallant Badiley 
as vice-admiral was the first to anchor under the castle 
and he was the last to weigh, defiantly keeping his station 
till the doomed vessels were beyond saving. In the 
English ships scarcely a man was hit, showing that the 
enemy's fire must have been mastered from the first. The 
loss in the boats was more serious. It is given as from 
twenty-five to thirty killed, and forty to eighty wounded ; 
but all, or nearly all, was the effect of musketry from the 
shore trenches. All day they watched the holocaust, and 
when night fell the flames still lit up the field of victory. 
So the w^ork was done, and well might an exultant officer 
call it ' a piece of service that has not been paralleled in 
these parts of the world.' ^ 

Blake's own note was much more modest. He could 
see little in his exploit but his extraordinary luck. After 
commenting on the insignificance of his loss he writes : 
' It is also remarkable to us that shortly after our getting 
forth, the wind and weather changed, and continued very 
stormy for many days, so that we could not have effected 
our business had not the Lord afforded that nick of time 
in w^hich it was done.' His grateful words might well 
make critics pause before they treat with contumely 
Mansell's failure at Algiers. Blake's apparently irresolute 
movements previous to the attack had been exactly the 
same as his ; both were embarrassed by the same indefinite 
instructions ; and Blake's methods might almost have 
been founded on Mansell's, so exactly similar were they. 

' Weale's Jcurnal. 


If Mansell had only had Blake's luck with the wind — if, 
instead of a calm and rain after the ships were set on fire, 
he had had a fresh breeze as Blake had — he must have 
succeeded as Blake did, and the Mediterranean would 
have rung with an exploit whose consequences for James's 
prestige at that critical moment it is impossible to measure. 
A comparison of the two exploits may be insisted on 
with profit, and pressed without disparagement to either 
officer. It rather serves to bring out the merits of each, 
and to give some light on the extent of risk that a naval 
commander may legitimately take. The cardinal difference 
between the two exploits — and it is that which has ob- 
scured their comparative merits — is that Blake entered 
the harbour and Mansell did not. Each was right in the 
particular case. We do not know the exact strength of 
the enemy in either case, but we do know the comparative 
value of the two English fleets, and w^e may safely say that 
the defences of Porto Farina were at least as inferior to 
those of Algiers as Blake's fleet was superior to Mansell's. 
It is clear that if Blake had been unable to come out 
when the w^ork was done, it w^ould have mattered little. 
So long as his overwhelming force remained in the 
harbour not a Tunisian gun could have been manned. 
For Mansell the inability to withdraw would have meant 
destruction. Had the chances been otherwise, he too 
doubtless would have gone in ; but clearly the true risk 
for him to take was to attempt the firing of the ships with- 
out trying to silence the batteries. This he successfully did, 
and his boats retired. When Blake had done so much 
he also retired and withdrew to a similar position to that 
which Mansell held throughout. In the one case the 
enemy's ships continued to burn, in the other they did not, 
owing mamly at least to an incalculable chance of the 
fickle Mediterranean weather. It is not right that this 
difference— -though it was all the difference between 
failure and success — should divide the credit of the two 
operaiions as widely as it has done. In appraising the 
judgment of the two admirals it would be difficult to know 
where to bestow the prize. Blake used an overwhelming 
force with just boldness vy'hile Mansell with just reserve 


husbanded one that was inadequate. It is needless to 
decide ; for this is certain — that there is as much true 
instruction for a naval officer in the one exploit as in the 

Complete as was Blake's success at Porto Farina, it 
earned him nothing tangible. Having given the Bey his 
lesson, he at once resumed his blockade of the Goleta and 
repeated his demands. The Bey remained absolutely 
inflexible. He refused even to treat unless Blake came 
ashore. The destroyed ships, he said, were the Sultan's, 
and with him the English would have to deal. Blake was 
in despair. He had gained no concession, he had not 
released a single captive, and yet there was nothing to do 
but retire once more to Cagliari. There he wrote an 
anxious despatch to excuse his conduct. * Seeing it has 
pleased God,' he said, ' to justify us herein, I hope his 
Highness will not be offended at it, nor any who regard 
duly the honour of our nation ; altho' I expect to hear of 
many complaints and clamours of interested men.' He 
meant of course the Levant merchants, and in his anxiety 
on their account he hurried off a merchantman, which 
happened to be in the Goleta, with letters to the Am- 
bassador at Constantinople to explain the provocation 
under which he had acted. He had to own how hazardous 
his exploit had been. * I confess,' he says, ' I did awhile 
much hesitate myself, and was balanced in my thoughts, 
until the barbarous carriage of those pirates did turn the 
scale.' Whatever the consequences to himself and British 
trade, the work was done, and it was time to turn to other 

His programme was as yet incomplete. Guise's fleet 
was still on his mind, and so was Algiers, whither he now 
meant to proceed in order to get a confirmation of Casson's 
treaty and fill up with water. The work was not likely 
to take him long. His exploit had already told. Within 
a week of it, while still before Tunis, he had received a 
deferential invitation from the Dey of Algiers to negotiate.^ 

' Contimiation of Fcyreign Passages. This information is added on 
April 10 as a postscript after the description of the actiQn written on the 
9th, and dated 'from Tunig Eoa4,' 


Thus he saw his way to gathering the first-fruits of his 
victory, and then returning without delay to his original 
object. ' From Algiers,' he wrote, while putting his fleet 
in order at Cagliari, ' we intend, if God enable us, to sail 
to Majorca, and from thence to range the coast of Provence 
to attend the French fleet in our way home, so long as 
our victuals will admit.' From this it is clear that his 
orders to deal gently with French commerce were not 
long-lived. In the last week in March Longland had sent 
him on two packets from London, which he must have 
received at Cagliari, to change his note. When these de- 
spatches were written the French negotiations had again 
hung fire. Cromwell absolutely refused to abandon his 
claim as the head of the Protestant faith to interfere on 
behalf of the Huguenots if he judged fit. It was a claim 
Louis could not possibly admit. Bordeaux was constantly 
asking for his passports, and the Protector was to all 
appearance quite prepared for a war with both France 
and Spain in the cause of the Eeformation. So far then 
ffom being debarred from injuring French commerce, 
Blake must have been authorised to proceed on the 
original intention, and threaten the ports of Toulon and 
Marseilles, where a powerful expedition was being pre- 
pared for resuming the offensive in Catalonia. The in- 
calculable force that lay in the Mediterranean squadron 
was thus again emphasised. Up till the very last moment 
it enabled Cromwell to play his double game. On the one 
hand ifc was a lever to force France into peace, and on the 
other a spell to lull Spain into security. Even as Blake 
acknowledged the subtle orders, Penn's attack on San 
Domingo was in full swing, and the final instructions to 
the Mediterranean squadron were speeding southward by 
sea and land. 

It was on April 18 that Blake, still believing the 
Toulon fleet was his objective, sailed from Cagliari to 
Algiers, where he arrived in ten days. His stay lasted 
barely a fortnight ; but so great was the effect of his lesson 
to Tunis that it was enough to do his work and do it 
well. So far from finding any resistance, he was received 
with marked respect. Victuals, water, everything he 


asked for was readily furnished. Casson's treaty was re- 
newed, with additional clauses extending its benefits to 
all British subjects, and in pursuance of it all who were 
then in captivity were given up on payment of their value. 
The men of the fleet were even permitted to ransom out 
of their pay a number of Dutchmen who swam off to the 
ships. It is part of the legend that Blake did much the 
same at Tripoli. It is certain that before receiving 
Cromwell's last orders he had intended to do so, but the 
call that had reached him at Cagliari left no time to spare 
for the w^ork.^ At Algiers he did not delay an hour 
longer than was necessary. So soon as victuals and 
captives were on board he swept on to the Balearic 
islands, where his three frigates were busy with French 
commerce.^ On May 14, four days after he had left 
Algiers, he anchored at Formentara and began to take in 
wood ; but next day, before he had done, it came on to 
blow and he had to make sail. On the morrow, as he 
stood off and on, he was joined by the ' Elias,' which was 
bringing wine and bread from Naples, and with her were 
a victualler called the ' Betty ' and his ketch. His plans 
immediately changed. After another day spent in taking 
in the stores, two small frigates were detached to Alicante 
and Cartagena to take in the guns that were there, belong- 
ing presumably to Kupert's beaten ships. Their orders 
were to follow him, not to Toulon, but to Gibraltar and 
Cadiz. This sudden change of move, of which there is 
no hint before, admits of but one explanation. He had 
heard by despatches, which Longland had forwarded, that 
Spain, not France, was to be his enemy, and instead of 
operating on the coast of Provence he was under orders 
for the coast of Andalusia to intercept the Plate fleet.^ 

» See his despatch of March 14, Add. MSS. 9304 : ♦ After Tunis we 
intend to go for Tripoli.' 

- Thurloe, iii. 487. 

^ On June 13 Cromwell wrote to Blake that he had sent him orders 
about the Plate fleet overland via Leghorn, and also by a ketch direct by 
sea (Thurloe, iii. 547). The question is whether the orders were sent early 
enough to have reached Blake at Formentara by May 16. Cromwell's 
words show that they were sent off before April 28, as Dr. Gardiner points 
out {Commoyiiccalth &c. iii. 392 n.), but they were probably sent much earlier. 
A Ijetch for the purpose was called for b^ the Admiralty Committee ott 


Of Blake's immediate movements thci'e is no record, 
but in ten days' time the two frigates which had been 
detached to AHcante and Cartagena, having loaded up the 
guns, came up with the main body of the fleet as it was 
in the act of passing the Straits. The reason Blake had 
been so long on the way is not clear, but there is an 
explanation worth suggesting;, as it involves the possible 
truth of one of the most striking episodes of the legend. 

Bishop Burnet relates that when ' Blake with the 
fleet happened to be at Malaga, before he made war on 
Spain,' some of his seamen went ashore, and, meeting the 
Host, began to jeer at the people for making obeisance. At 
the instigation of the priests, the crowd set upon them and 
sent them back to their ships very severely handled. Once 
on board the men complained to Blake, and the admiral 
promptly sent on shore a trumpet to demand the sur- 
render of the ringleader of the priests. The Governor 
replied he had no jurisdiction over priests ; whereupon 
Blake declared that that was no concern of his, but that 
if the offender was not given up within three hours he 

March 26 {Dom. Cal. 452). There was some delay in fitting her out, but 
presumably the orders were ready and duplicates were sent olf by land very 
soon after this call — that is, early in April. Dr. Gardiner, however, believed 
they were entrusted to Capt. Nixon of the ' Centurion,' a fourth-rate frigate, 
about the end of April, and that he landed the messenger somewhere in the 
Mediterranean and sent him to Leghorn overland. If this was so Blake 
cannot have received the orders at Formentara on May 17. But the letters 
which on May 1 Vice-Admiral Jordan says he had given to Nixon cannot 
have been there sent overland. Nixon, with the ' Centurion ' and ' Dragon,' 
Bailed as convoy to the victuallers which Cromwell distinctly says he sent 
off after the overland orders had gone, and these vessels met Blake at 
Cadiz (Thurloe, iii. 547, Dom. Cal. viii. pp. 468, 471). The despatches 
Nixon carried must have been those which Blake refers to in his cypher 
despatch of June 12 as ' the secret instructions sent by your Highness 
referring me to a former instruction touching the Silver fleet ' (Thurloe, 
iii. 541). 

These ' former instructions ' must have been those sent off by Longland 
from Leghorn on May 1 by the ' Warwick ' pinnace to Alcudia Bay 
(Thurloe, iii. 422). This is just the time he would have received letters from 
London, sent off overland at the end of March, the post time being, as 
appears from his correspondence, about four to live weeks. The probability 
is that, on his way to Formentara from Algiers, Blake detached his despatch 
ketch to Alcudia Bay to bring on anything he found at the rendezvous, 
that she found there the ' Warwick ' pinnace, the ' Elias,' and the 'Betty,' 
and thus it was that her arrival at Formentara with the ' Warwick's ' 
despatches was followed by Blake's sudden change of plan. 

I. "^ 


would burn the town. The priest was sent. Blake repri- 
raanded him for not having lodged a formal complaint of 
the seamen's conduct. Had he done so they should have 
been punished. He would suffer no man of his to insult 
the established religion of a country, but at the same 
time he would have all men know that an Englishman 
was only to be punished by an Englishman. And with 
that he let the priest go. * Cromwell,' Burnet adds, 
' was much delighted with this, and read the letters in 
Council with great satisfaction, and said he hoped he 
should make the name of an Englishman as great as ever 
that of a Koman had been.' ^ The story may be a pure 
myth, but Burnet can hardly have invented it, and all we 
know of Blake's movements renders it quite possible that 
something of the kind really occurred. We know, more- 
over, that when he called at Malaga on his way out, one 
of his boats for some unexplained reason had been de- 
tained and that the fleet sailed without it. It is on the 
assumption that the Bishop's story related to this visit that 
modern scepticism has rejected it.^ But it is almost cer- 
tain that Blake visited Malaga a second time on his way 
out of the Straits. He was ten days — that is, from May 17 
to May 27 — getting from Formentara to Gibraltar, and, 
as we know from the log of the ' Amity,' one of the two 
frigates detached for the guns, they met with calms and 
baffling airs from the 25th to the morning of the 27th as 
they turned westward.^ The fleet could not have passed 
the Straits in such weather, and Malaga was the ordinary 
place for vessels to lie while waiting for a wind to carry 
them out. Hence nothing is more probable than that 
Blake lay there three days at this time, and while doing so 
he may well have demanded redress either for the previous 
detention of his boat or for some new insult to his flag. 
In any case there is nothing in the known facts of the 
case to justify an out-of-hand rejection of the bishop's 
story, and Blake may still be credited with his famous 
vindication of his country's honour. 

^ History of his Oicn Times, i. 80 (138). 
- Gardiner, Commonicealtli &c. iii. 373, n. 
^ Weale's Journal. 

165o BLAKE'S ' PARDON 275 

It was the last act of that memorable cruise. With 
admirable skill, and the shameless craft which was then 
the foundation of all foreign politics both at home and 
abroad, Cromwell had extracted from it the utmost 
possible advantage. By permitting Blake's last move on 
Toulon he had blinded the Spaniards' eyes till the very last 
moment. Blake had scarcely reached Cadiz before it was 
known that Penn's fleet was in the West Indies. Yet in 
the previous week the Governor of Alicante and Cartagena 
had been handing over Rupert's guns to the English 
captains with effusive compliments. Even at Cadiz, 
when Blake asked leave to careen his ships in the port, 
orders came down from Madrid that it was to be per- 
mitted ; but, having probably in the meanwhile learnt the 
news that had come across the Atlantic, he prudently 
declined the invitation when it arrived. It was safer to 
anchor off Rota, and there in the mouth of the bay he lay 
quietly re victualling before the Spaniards* eyes from the 
storeships that had arrived from England. No one could 
doubt what his business was. He had come there, every 
one said, to intercept the treasure fleet if Penn missed it, 
and by the King's order incessant prayers were offered 
for its safety in the monasteries and convents.^ 

Such were indeed his orders, and a little later they 
w^ere supplemented by instructions to prevent any relief 
getting out to the West Indies to interfere with Penn. 
They were accompanied by the Protector's hearty approval 
of what his admiral had done at Tunis. He acknow- 
ledged the good hand of God in it, as Blake had pointed 
out ; but at the same time he added : * I think myself 
obliged to notice your courage and good conduct therein, 
and do esteem that you have done a very considerable 
service to this Commonwealth.' ^ For the present he was 
destined to do no more. Though he remained on the 
coast all the summer, the treas-ure fleet did not come, 

' Sir Percy Wright to Thurloe (Thurloe, iii. 542). 

^ This letter of approval, in answer to Blake's apology for attacking 
Porto Farina without orders, is clearly the origin of the widely believed 
story that Blake received a pardon from Cromwell. Practically he did, and 
the story can hardly be said to be a ' pure fiction ' (Gai-diner, First Dutch 
War, i. 24, n.). 

T 2 


and no Indian relief put out. It is true a fleet hastily 
gathered and equipped in Cadiz did get to sea, but war 
had not been declared and it avoided an action. Blake 
on his part did not press one, since he had no authority to 
attack a fleet not bound for the Indies. By the end of 
summer the admiral with his fifty-six years was so broken 
by the long strain to which he had been exposed that 
he could not conceal his condition from the Protector. 
Cromwell at once gave him leave to stay out or come 
home as he pleased, and on October 6, with his fleet as 
worn and strained as himself, he anchored in the Downs. 

Cromwell's war with spain 

The remarkable success of Blake's memorable demon- 
stration gave the course of English Mediterranean power 
a new and stronger impulse. Henceforth it moves in a 
fuller flood. The main channel becomes clearly recog- 
nisable, and the slenderer streams that go to swell its bulk 
lose their importance. While we traced the sources, each 
rivulet — the small beginnings that make great ends — had 
to be examined with patient scrutiny that to each might 
be justly apportioned its relative share. But as they 
unite in a wider bed the course becomes clearer and we 
may travel down it at greater speed. The rivulets that 
formerly were parent streams become mere tributaries 
that deserve no more than passing notice. It is with the 
broad features of our progress that we are now concerned, 
and these we may observe as we are carried ever more 
rapidly down the increasing current. 

Cromwell's Spanish war was little concerned with 
action within the Straits. It was conceived in the Eliza- 
bethan spirit, and in the Elizabethan spirit it was waged. 
It was mainly an Ocean war, and yet the lessons of Blake's 
cruise were not wholly forgotten. The great contribution 
of that cruise to naval thought has never been sufiQciently 
recognised. It was not his swoop on Naples, his threat 
on Toulon, or even his exploit on the Tunis batteries that 
was its most memorable feature. It was those three 
impatient weeks — wasted weeks as it seemed — when at the 
outset of his campaign he Jay at Gibraltar fuming because 
the Brest division did not come. It was in those weeks, 
when men said he had thrown away his chance of strik- 
ing Guise, that he had really defeated him, and not only 


him but Mazarin's whole Mediterranean policy. By 
seizing the Straits and holding them as he did, he had 
prevented Guise receiving at the essential moment the 
powerful addition to his force on which he relied for 
success ; the heart was stricken out of the French 
commanders, their action w^as cramped and made ab- 
ortive, and finally all hope of renewing the attempt after 
the first miscarriage w^as destroyed. It is true that a 
crushing blow at Guise's demoralised fleet would have 
made a more brilliant impression for the moment, but 
for deep and lasting influence on the balance of sea power 
it could not compare with what Blake's timely inaction 
achieved. By the still pressure of those lost wxeks he 
had given to English naval strategy a priceless maxim. 
He had demonstrated the surpassing importance of 
Gibraltar and the inherent weakness of the French 
position. His action had brought naked to the surface 
the cardinal fact that the two seats of her naval energy 
were separated widely and by a narrow defile. It was 
clear that the prompt seizure or even the threat to seize 
this defile must place in English hands the initiative in 
any naval war with her old enemy. This then was the 
priceless secret that Blake had laid bare — the true 
significance of the Gibraltar defile. Priceless indeed 
it was to those who had eyes to see — for it is not too 
much to say that to this enduring geographical condition, 
more than to any other single factor, England owed her 
final domination of the sea. 

It is not of course pretended that the truth was clearly 
recognised at once. The great facts of strategy have 
always grown slowly to axiomatic solidity, rather by 
repeated example than sudden precept. It is one of the 
most remarkable features of Drake's wide grasp of naval 
problems that he was able to formulate his intuitions as 
clearly as he did. Blake may have done as much in the 
present case, but so little that he wrote has survived that 
we cannot tell. All we know is that at the very next 
opportunity the idea recurred. Spain was now to find her- 
self in the same position as France. In her case also the 
two main seats of her naval energy were separated by the 


Gibraltar defile. In the days of the old war this had not 
been so, and this was no doubt one reason why the 
Elizabethan admirals had neglected Gibraltar. At that 
time Spain held Portugal and had no sailing navy in the 
Mediterranean. Consequently the central point of her 
naval power lay not at Gibraltar but at Cape St. Vincent. 
To the north of it lay Lisbon and the ports of Galicia, 
Biscay, and Flanders ; to the south, Cadiz and Seville, the 
great seats of the American marine, and such Itahan ports 
as could contribute to her oceanic strength. St. Vincent 
then, as Drake saw, was the true point of division. Here 
it was he performed one of his most daring and 
miraculous exploits in seizing the Cape, and throughout 
the war his pupils continued to regard St. Vincent as 
the key of the Spanish position. But with the loss of 
Portugal and Osuna's foundation of a sailing navy in the 
Two Sicihes the centre of gravity shifted to Gibraltar. 
Thus, so soon as the new war breaks out, we see the 
neglected idea of the Scottish soldier of fortune being 
forced again to the front, and the Straits assuming an 
importance w^hich they had never enjoyed before. 

As in the case of Drake's descent on the West Indies 
and the Spanish Main in 1585, formal war did not 
immediately follow the attack of Penn and Venables on 
Hispaniola and Jamaica. Throughout the autumn and 
winter of 1655 the Spaniards made earnest efforts to come 
to an arrangement ; but on the Enghsh demands for the 
religious exterritoriahty of their merchantmen in Spanish 
ports and for the open door in the Indies neither side 
would give way. It was the old quarrel which James's 
premature peace had left unsettled, and it had to be fought 
out. Though war was not actually proclaimed by Spain 
till February 1656, a powerful fleet had been brought 
forward in the English ports during the winter months. 
Blake was to command it, but as his health was far from 
restored he begged for a colleague. To his serious dis- 
satisfaction, as it is said, Cromwell appointed his young 
friend Edward Montague, better known in Kestorationdays 
as the Earl of Sandwich. This brilliant and attractive 
gentleman was one of Cromwell's mistakes. A cousin of 


the Earl of Manchester, the first Parliamentary Com- 
mander-in-Chief, he had thrown in his lot with the 
popular cause and been given premature miHtary prefer- 
ment. After Manchester's retirement his favour con- 
tinued. When barely j^et twenty years of age he had 
received the command of a regiment in the New Model 
army, and had fought at Naseby and the siege of Bristol. 
Though, as Clarendon says, Tie had the reputation of 'a 
very stout and sober youDg man,' there is no sign of his 
having particularly distinguished himself, nor indeed of 
his having taken any further part in the struggle till Crom- 
well's rise to supreme power again attracted him. In 
August 1654 he had been appointed one of the Com- 
missioners of the Treasury, and thus he w^as not yet 
thirty, with absolutely no experience of the sea and very 
little of w^ar at all, when he w^as suddenly thrust up to 
share the position which Blake had so hardly earned. The 
explanation of the appointment must be sought in Crom- 
well's personal affection and Montague's own pecuniary 
difficulties. Pepys, his most ardent admirer and devoted 
client, says he was heavily in debt at the time, and the 
main object of the coming campaign was the capture of 
the Spanish treasure fleet. The result of the appoint- 
ment was from our present point of view a very striking 
modification of the action which Cromwell had in his mind. 
As usual, the admirals' instructions are not extant and 
we have again to gather them from their proceedings. 
The fleet was a very powerful one. At its head, bearing 
the flag of both the admirals, w^as the ' Naseby,' a new 
frigate-built first-rate of over 1600 tons and 80 guns, 
just launched at Woolwich and the pride of the Pro- 
tectorate navy. Next her was the famous * Eesolution,' 
which was originally intended for Lawson's flag ; but at 
the last moment, for political reasons, he w^as superseded 
by Badiley. No hst of the fleet exists, but it certainly 
consisted of not less than forty-five sail and included at 
least eight second-rates and several third-rates.^ 

' Thurloe, v. 69. Montague, on May 20, says there were sixteen frigates 
before Cadiz and twenty-seven sail at Tangier, including fire-ships and 
victuallers, besides at least two detached frigates, the ' Phoenix ' and ' Sap- 


Owing to the difficulty of manning so large a force 
and other reasons it was not till the end of March that 
the admirals cleared from Torbay. The result was that 
the treasure fleet got into Cadiz before them, and their 
chance of a rich capture w^as gone till the next one was 
due in the summer. They were thus thrown back on 
their secondary objects, one of which, it becomes clear, was 
to establish a footing on Spanish territory at some point 
from which they could control the Straits and also pre- 
vent an expedition sailing from Cadiz for the recovery of 
Jamaica. On April 15, off the south-west of Portugal, 
Montague sent to Thurloe the unw^elcome intelligence 
they had obtained. Not only the newly arrived treasure 
fleet but the galleons of the Indian Guard that had not 
already got away with the outward convoy were snug in 
the inmost recesses of Cadiz harbour, where it was almost 
impossible to attack them, and it was certain that the 
Spaniards did not mean, as had been hoped, to put out 
and risk an action. Further he says, ' They have sent 
tw^o new regiments for Gibraltar, and the Duke of Medina 
is as active as he can [be] in securing the coast. You may 
well judge upon this intelligence what straights we are 
in to resolve our actings : what respect to have to the 
Indies, and what to attempt here worth the while.' The 
weather was too boisterous to hold a council, and it wa-s 
not till five days later, on April 20, he was able to send 
the result of their deliberations. 

After a long and careful reconnaissance it was decided 
that as things stood it was impossible to do anything at 
Cadiz. 'We had then,' Montague contimies, 'some 
debate of Gibraltar, and there appeared no great mind to 
it in regard of hardness and want of land men formed, 
and officers and numbers of men too, all of which are real 
obstacles, as you may judge upon the description of the 

phire.' From the minute-book of the Navy Commissioners {Add. MSS. 
1905, f. 180) and Stayner's despatch (Thurloe, v. 399), and other scattered 
notices we know the fleet included, besides the firsu-rates ' Naseby ' and 
' Kesolution,' the 'Andrew ' (52), 'Hainbow ' (54), 'Unicorn' (50), 'Plymouth ' 
(54), 'Bridgewater' (52), ' Speaker' (64), ' George ' (52)— all second-rates— and 
the ' Entrance ' (40), ' Bristol ' (44), ' Taunton ' (40), and ' Jersey ' (40), third- 


place [and] the number and quality of our men ; and to 
say the truth the seamen are not for land service unless 
it be a sudden plunder. They are valiant, but not to be 
ruled and kept in any government ashore. Nor have 
your sea officers much stomach to fight ashore. Yet this 
work is not thrown aside on debate.'^ 

From these remarks of Montague's it is clear the 
idea of Gibraltar must have been in the admirals' minds 
from the first, and it was now to be pressed from home. 
A week later, on iVpril 28, when Cromwell had learnt from 
independent sources how unfavourably events had fallen, 
he sent the admirals a series of suggestions for the future 
conduct of the campaign. First he proposed the destruc- 
tion of the Spanish fleet where it lay, and, if this were 
found impracticable, an attempt on Cadiz itself.^ Failing 
this he asks them to consider * whether any other place 
be attemptable, especially that of the town and castle of 
Gibraltar, which, if possessed and made tenable by us, 
would it not be both an advantage to our trade and an 
annoyance to the Spaniard, and enable us without keeping 
so great a fleet on that coast, with six nimble frigates 
lodged there, to do the Spaniard more harm than by a 
fleet and ease our own charge ? ' Here we have the first 
definite suggestion of the permanent occupation of Gib- 
raltar as a naval station, and it comes from Cromwell's pen. 
With whom the idea originated we cannot tell. From 
Montague's concern for the place it would look as if it had 
been mentioned before they sailed. It is probable, as the 
custom was, that the designers of the campaign had had 
the records of similar expeditions before them and had 
noted Colonel Bruce's proposal to Lord Wimbledon in 
1625. After the fleet sailed, however, the idea must for 

' Thurloe, v. 67. The word ' stomach ' is there wrongly deciphered 
•stoars.' It is written 90, 6, 19, 7, 9, 25, which reads * stoack,' the ' m ' 
being obviously omitted. 

- Carlyle here mistakes Cromwell's meaning. He does not contemplate 
the destruction of the Suazo bridge, close by which the whole Spanish 
force was concentrated, but suggests it may be neutralised as a line of 
relief for Cadiz by throwing entrenchments across the narrowest part of 
the island of Leon, and so cutting the road from the bridge to the town. It 
was so Essex had intended his attack to be covered in 1596, though by 
mistake the covering force went on to the bridge. 


some reason have taken firmer hold of the Protector's 
mind and caused him to lay more stress upon it. So 
far indeed had the project gone with him that he is said 
to have formed a design for cutting through what is now 
the neutral ground and turning Gibraltar into an island.* 

Meanwhile, in search of water, the admirals had moved 
down to Tangier, leaving a division of fourteen frigates 
under the rear-admiral to blockade Cadiz. On their way 
they fell in with Cromwell's messenger, and ten days 
later, on May 13, after they had been lying at Tangier a 
w^eek, Montague took two frigates across the Straits and 
made a close reconnaissance of the Kock in person. The 
result appears to have been that the more he looked at it 
the less he hked it. Still it could not be lightly aban- 
doned. Cromwell's messenger was a certain Captain 
Lloyd, whom the Protector specially recommended as a 
person of intec^rity and in full possession of his ideas. In 
virtue of his verbal instructions Lloyd appears to have 
laid particular stress on the Gibraltar project. ' I per- 
ceive,' Montague wrote a week later, ' much desire that 
Gibraltar should be taken. My thoughts as to that are 
in short these: that the hkeliest way to get it is by 
landing on the sand and quickly cutting it off between 
sea and sea, or so to secure our men there as they may 
hinder the intercourse of the town with the main, frigates 
lying near to assist them : and it is well known that 
Spain never victualleth a place for one month. This will 
w^ant four or five thousand men, w^ell formed and officered.' 
This he said w^as only his ow^n private opinion, for a 
council had not yet been called to reconsider the question. 

What Blake thought we cannot tell. We have none 
of his letters, and Montague never refers to him, and the 
impression we get is that he was either ill or too discon- 
tented for energetic action. Still there is reason to 
believe he was of Montague's opinion ; at any rate it was 

' Sir Henry Sheeres, A Discoiose concerning tlie Mediterranean 
Sea dx. (See_pos/, pp. 366, 518.) To the edition of 1705, published im- 
mediately after the place was taken by Eooke, is a plan of it, and beside 
the neutral ground it has this note : ' Oliver Cromwell had a design on this 
place and would have cut this neck of land to make Gibraltar an island.' 


decided not to make any attempt for the present, and 
Lloyd was sent back to report to Cromwell and receive 
his decision. It is possible that Montague's keen anxiety 
for prize money may have had a good deal to do with its 
postponement, but his reasons for not attempting the 
enterprise have much weight. There were certainly a 
number of soldiers in the fleet who had been shipped 
when seamen were found so hard to get and so disaffected ; 
but, as Montague said, they were not ' formed ' — that is, 
organised in companies and regiments for shore service — 
and they had no officers. Moreover, there was for the 
moment more pressing business in hand. Portugal was 
making difficulties over the ratification of the commercial 
treaty that had lately been concluded, and was suspected 
of an intention to throw in her lot with Spain. Montague 
was eager to seize the occasion as an excuse for capturing 
their homeward-bound Brazil convoy, w^hich was just due. 
The Enghsh envoy at Lisbon had suggested this step, and 
it would seem that Lloyd had brought them authority to 
take it. By his hands or shortly afterwards they received 
definite instructions to make a demonstration before 
Lisbon with a peremptory demand for ratification. Much 
to Montague's disgust — and he made no secret of it — the 
effect was immediate. The Portuguese gave in and the 
Brazil fleet had to be left alone. 

This business done, the admirals returned to Cadiz 
to see once more if Cromwell's suggestions could not 
be carried out.^ But all seemed as hopeless as before. 
Both admirals were now agreed that * nothing could be 
done against the Spaniard.' Proposals were made for 
attempting Bayona in Galicia, and also for plundering 
Majorca, but Blake rejected them all. A hint had been 
received from home that if nothing could be done against 
the Spanish attitude of passive defence, the bulk of the 
fleet should be sent back. So lame a conclusion was 
little to Blake's mind. The fact was, his heart was set on 
completing the work he had but half done in his previous 
campaign, and a new cruise in the Mediterranean was at 

' Pointcr'n letters (Dom. Cal. 373), June 16, 1656, and Montague's in 
Thurloe, v. 170, June 30. 


this time practically decided on. 'We have in a manner 
resolved,' wrote Montague on the last day of June, ' to 
appear in the Straits as high as Tripoli, and make a 
league with that place if we can, as also Tunis it may be.' 
The idea was to leave thirteen sail, including the largest 
ships, under Badiley to watch Cadiz and, after detaching 
a squadron against Salee, to proceed into the Mediter- 
ranean with the rest. It was a programme that promised 
far too little remuneration to please Montague. For all 
Cromwell's high-handed ways he did not venture to 
establish a commercial blockade of Cadiz. That which 
they were working was purely military, and practically 
unproductive. It broke Montague's heart to see the 
flourishing trade neutrals were doing with the enemy, 
* which,' he lamented, ' we cannot hinder unless we should 
fight all the world.' Contraband they did attempt to stop, 
but with small effect and much loss of temper. ' It begets 
a deal of ill-will,' he added ; ' in short, is the worst piece of 
work we meet with.' He was tired and disgusted with a 
service so different from what he had hoped, and he ended 
by urging that fifteen sail of nimble frigates kept per- 
manently on the station, careening and watering at 
Lisbon, could do more than the fleet they had. 

There were moral effects, however, of w^hich he took 
no note. That powerful fleet and Blake's name produced 
within the Mediterranean an impression which was deep 
and lasting, and which is for us the highest interest of the 
campaign. From Leghorn Longland was watching its 
effect with his characteristic acuteness. The possibilities 
the fleet possessed of striking in a score of different places 
kept every cabinet concerned in a wholesome state of 
anxious deference. As early as February Longland had 
written that on the first news that Blake was coming to 
sea again the Pope had had all the treasure of Loretto 
removed inland. In April he said he had sent down two 
thousand masons to fortify his coast towns. Others 
believed Blake's objective was Elba, Majorca, or Sicily, 
and generally the Itahan Princes dreaded that the French 
ambitions were to be supported by the English fleet. The 
alarm moderated when Blake was known to be operating 


off Cadiz ; but when, about midsummer, rumours came in 
that he was after all coming into the Mediterranean, it 
redoubled, and not without cause. At a moment when it 
seemed to the admirals they were most impotent, to us, 
who can view^ the whole field, they present a picture of 
striking potency, and afford us a notable demonstration 
of the power which a Mediterranean fleet can give to 
England for playing on the strings of Europe. 

The trouble about ratifying the treaty with Portugal 
had been raised by the Church. The priests, scandalised 
at the article which gave religious exterritoriality to the 
English merchants, took up an irreconcilable attitude, 
and to the English protests the King replied he was not 
king of the Church, and must refer the article for the 
Pope's consent. The successful demonstration of the 
fleet before Lisbon, which had compelled him to stand 
by his word, was thus for Cromwell and his men a direct 
blow at w^hat they regarded as the cloven hoof of 
Eome. Ever since his accession the new Pope, 
Alexander YIL, had fixed his pohcy on bringing 
about peace between France and Spain. The amazing 
military successes of the new King of Sweden, Charles 
Gustavus, were filling Catholic eyes with amazement. 
Another Gustavus Adolphus had arisen, and it was 
known that the no less terrible Cromw^ell was devoting 
all his energy to forming w-ith him a great Protestant 
alliance against the supposed aggression of Eome. 
The Pope's idea was doubtless defensive. For him it 
was the Protestants w^ho threatened aggression. His 
project of bringing peace to the faithful was, however, 
going but badly. The previous year he had seen France 
compelled to back Cromwell's intervention on behalf of 
the Vaudois Protestants, and now negotiations w^ere 
actually on foot between Cromwell and Mazarin for an 
offensive alliance against Spain. When, to crow-n the 
danger, he saw Portugal on the brink of placing herself 
in the Protector's hands, it was but natural he should 
interfere, and, having failed and been found out, that he 
and every one else should expect retaliation. 

When Cromwell as yet did not know what the end 

1656 ALAPtM OF THE TOPE 287 

of the Vauclois affair was to be, he had drawn attention 
to the fact that at Nice and Yillafranca, the territory of 
their persecutor, the Duke of Savoy, lay open to his 
fleet, and the Pope knew that his own Eomagna was 
equally exposed. All kinds of stories went the round of 
Europe, pointing to the extreme anxiety that was felt at 
Rome. So soon as the new danger was grasped, it was 
said the Pope summoned the Ambassadors of Spain, 
Venice, Florence, and other great and powerful princes, 
and showed them how they were all threatened by the 
English fleet, with which that of Turkey was to be 
joined in secret alliance,^ The sound of a couple of 
Dutch ships saluting at Civita Vecchia threw Rome into 
a panic. It was said that Blake had seized the port. 
The Pope ordered his heavy artillery to be drawn out of 
the Castle of St. Angelo and planted in the streets, and 
the whole city to stand to arms. ' Whereby,' wrote 
Longland, in sending the report, ' you may please 
observe first, particularly, of whom the Pope is most 
afraid, which I cannot but take for a good omen, that 
God may please to give deliverance to Christendom by 
English arms.' ^ 

As to the best use to which the idle fleet might be 
put, Longland had his own ideas. His eyes were still 
set on the heart of the Mediterranean. The Neapolitans, 
he said, were again in a state of great unrest, and so 
serious was their disaffection that he was certain, if Blake 
appeared in the bay and declared he had come to help 
the people to throw off the Spanish yoke, they would 
rise to a man. The mistake the French had twice made 
need not be repeated. He named a native nobleman, of 
vast wealth, great popularity, and English connections, 
who was ready to place himself at the head of the move- 
ment. Thus Naples might become a kingdom under a 
sovereign of its own, and be permanently lost to Spain, 
and that he declared would be a greater blow to her than 
the loss of all her Indies.^ 

None of these plans were destined to be carried out. 

» From Cologne, June 16, 1656 (Thurloe, v. 93). 
« Ibid. V. 137. 3 Ibid. v. 93, June 6-16. 


No sooner had Blake resolved to enter the Mediterranean 
than strong easterly weather set in that held him at 
Cadiz. Instead of abating, it increased to a violent 
tempest, and so shattered the fleet that ten of the frigates 
had to be sent home. Still, on July 9, leaving Badiley 
with twelve sail before Cadiz, the admirals were able to 
weigh for the Straits with about fourteen sail. * God 
send us a good voyage,' Montague concluded his despatch, 
* and good news from England at our return.' It was 
not, however, for Tunis or Tripoli that they were now 
bound. While awaiting Cromwell's decision about 
Gibraltar they had resolved to look out for a place 
on the Barbary side of the Straits which might serve 
their turn for careening and watering, *in case,' as 
Montague wrote, 'you come to need it on another 
occasion.' He called the place they had their eye on 
Boremo or Buzema, by which he probably meant the 
island of Albucemas, on the Biff coast, about a hundred 
miles within the Straits.^ ' Let me add by the way,' he 
further said, ' that if we could find such a place com- 
modious, it were an unspeakable advantage to England 
to have a fort and possession thereof.' His expression 
should be remembered, for in it we seem to have the 
germ of the idea which was destined for years to replace 
that of Gibraltar. For the present nothing came of it, 
for tbe place was found wholly unsuitable. They did 
not, however, return empty-handed. Five frigates and a 
fire-ship had been detached to Malaga, under a Captain 
Smith, with a view of destroying some shipping which 
w^as known to be lying there. With his fire-ship he 
burnt two vessels lying under the mole, a galley, and 
half a dozen smaller craft. Then, having driven the 
Spaniards from the mole by his fire, he landed upon it, 
spiked the guns of the battery, and came off with the loss 
of six killed. 

Eeturning to Cadiz and finding no orders from home, 
the admirals now went dow^n to Salee to force a treaty 

' See 2^ost, p. 321, note. It is conceivable also that he meant tha 
bay of Beuzus, an anchorage close to Ceuta and immediately opposite 


and release captives. By September 1 they were 
back again at Cadiz, and still without orders as to 
Gibraltar or sending home the larger ships. In a week 
they had to go on to Lisbon for water, leaving Stayner 
with a frigate squadron to maintain the blockade. 
Scarcely were their backs turned when it came on to 
blow from the west, and he had to stand out to sea. 
The same wind, as luck would have it, was bringing in 
the flota of Tierra Firme, which carried the treasure 
of Peru, and while his frigates were scattered he fell in 
with it. Thus, without any warning, the great chance 
had come. Sadly fallen from its old glories, the fleet 
consisted of but seven sail and a Portuguese prize. 
There were but two galleons, with two armed ureas or 
' hulks ' and three merchantmen. Stayner had only 
three of his frigates in a position to engage, the rest 
being to leeward ; but they were all three second-rates 
of over fifty guns, and more than a match for their prey. 
Undeceived by the admiral's flag being flown on one of the 
ureas, Stayner let it go and made for the galleons. After 
a six hours' action, one of them which carried the Marquis 
of Baydes, Governor of Chile, was burnt. The other and 
one of the merchantmen were taken, and the remaining 
urea was sunk. The pseudo-flagship and the prize were 
chased ashore, while the two other merchantmen escaped 
into Gibraltar. It was one of the sharpest blows that 
had ever been dealt by England to the Indian trade. To 
the Spaniards it meant a loss in modern value of about 
ten millions steiiing, to Cromwell a gain of three millions.' 
So beyond all expectation the main object of the 
campaign was after all accomplished, and Stayner's great 
stroke of fortune brought it to an end. 

He had not long joined the main fleet in the Tagus 
with his prizes when the long-awaited orders arrived from 
the Protector. For more than a month after Lloyd had 

' In the above account I have mainly foUosved the Spanish version 
(Dure, Armada Espaiiola, v. 22), rectifying where possible by Stayner's own 
despatch (Thurloe, v. 399). The odds were certainly greatly in favour of 
the P'nglish, and Stayner in his very modest report did not seek to exag- 
gerate his exploit. 

I. U 


arrived with the admirals' reply to his suggestions, 
Cromwell had delayed his decision. He was in the 
throes of forcing Mazarin into a joint operation against 
Dunkirk, and it would seem that he meant to hold Blake 
and his fleet m terrorem until he knew what line the 
Cardinal meant to take. It was not till August 17 that 
Lockhart, his ambassador extraordinary at the French 
Court, was able to assure him that Mazarin had given in 
and had begun caressing him with an almost suspicious 
cordiality. Eleven days later Cromwell's instructions to 
his admirals were sent down to Plymouth.^ 

In despair of orders they had just decided to 
winter in the Tagus, to be ready for action at the earliest 
moment next year; but Cromwell's despatch proved a 
complete endorsement of the views which Montague had 
sent home by Captain Lloyd. He noted that they had 
found it impossible to move the Spaniard or to attack 
him in his harbours; ' and as for any design on Gibraltar,' 
he adds, ' we see by General Montague's letter to the 
Secretary that nothing therein was feasible without a 
good body of landsmen,' and in view of his project against 
Dunkirk he had no troops to spare. With Dunkirk sub- 
stituted for Gibraltar as the main objective, the whole 
fleet was clearly no longer required where it was. 
Montague was therefore to bring home the largest ships, 
while Blake with twenty frigates, or such other number 
as he deemed advisable, was to stay out and hold the 

With this decision of Cromwell's his Mediterranean 
policy sank to a mere accessory to his main line of energy. 
Having decided to concentrate his action on the ports of 
the Spanish Netherlands, and establish there a foothold 
on the continent, he abandoned the idea of Gibraltar. 
Thereafter the war took a different turn. Owing to the 
mutual jealousies of the Protestant powders the Baltic for 
the moment assumed a more important place than the 
Mediterranean, while Stayner's success and affairs in the 
West Indies fixed the maritime war more definitely still 

• Thurloe, v. 317, 363. 


to Elizabethan lines. It was a war policy that was 
crowned by the famous exploit of Blake and Stayner 
upon the flota of New Spain at Teneriffe in the fohowing 
year — an exploit which w^as also the crown of Blake's own 
reputation. On his way home in triumph he died, and in a 
few weeks Badiley followed him to an honoured grave. 
Neither lived to demonstrate the value of the work they 
had set on foot, or to complete what they had begun. 
Still its effects were far from lost, as the remaining events 
of the Protectorate administration proved. 

The importance that was attached to continuing a 
Mediterranean fleet is marked by the fact that, a few- 
months after Montague's return, it was decided to esta- 
blish at Tetuan a purveyor for the navy, and this reso- 
lution was carried out early in the year 1657.^ With 
Lisbon as a careening port and Tetuan as a victualling 
station the squadron was thus fairly well based, even 
without Gibraltar, and on this system it continued to 
be worked. When Blake went home. Captain John 
Stoakes, w^ho had served as his captain throughout his 
Mediterranean cruise and had commanded the blockading 
division off Cadiz during his chief's absence at Teneriffe, 
was left in command of the station wath a squadron of 
about twenty frigates. At the end of the year, w'hen 
it became apparent that the fleet which had been 
laboriously preparing at Cadiz could never get to sea, 
he was ordered to send home all but ten sail, and with 
these to enter the Mediterranean and put a stop to the 
depredations of the Tunis and Tripoli corsairs. As a first 
step he sent forward Captain Whetstone, a nephew of the 
Protector, with four frigates to cruise between Malta and 
Crete w^ith instructions to use the Venetian island of 
Zante as a base and rendezvous. He himself proceeded 
to Leghorn, presumably for stores and beverage. His 
reception was far from cordial. The Grand Duke's atti- 
tude was so unfriendly that Stoakes suspected him of 
having been seduced to the Spanish interest, and before 
he left relations had grown very strained. Still, in spite 

* Minate-book of the Navy Commissioners, Add. MSS. 1905, ff. 221, 
229, January 10 and February 24, 1057. 

I. u 2 


of all difficulties, he was able to appear before Tunis 
at the end of January 1658. He at once demanded the 
release of all British captives as a preliminary to further 
negotiation. The Bey, in a spirit very different from that 
which he had previously displayed, replied that he was 
ready to ransom them upon the same terms as Blake 
had accepted at Algiers. Stoakes was for fighting, but 
having ascertained that there were eight men-of-war in 
Porto Farina, and that the forts had been greatly 
strengthened, and knowing also his own frigates were too 
foul to do good work, he decided to offer a ransom. 
Ultimately he induced the Bey to give up all the 
prisoners for about a tenth of their market value. He 
then was admitted into Porto Farina to clean, and 
before he had done he successfully negotiated a treaty 
w^hich rendered English commerce immune from inter- 
ference, and gave the war vessels of each state freedom 
of the other's ports. Having thus satisfactorily settled 
matters at Tunis, he had to return to the northward 
to recruit before doing anything against Tripoli. At 
Leghorn he was bluntly refused pratique and actually 
fired upon for taking a prize in alleged breach of the 
neutrality of the port. As he said, he had done nothing 
but w^hat every Dutch admiral had done before him, and 
he himself had seen Blake do far more. But Leghorn 
w^as becoming thoroughly Spanish. Even the provisions 
which had been prepared for him he was not permitted 
to take on board, and, not wishing to involve the 
country in hostilities with Tuscany, he contented himself 
with sending a protest to Florence and reporting home, 
and betook himself to Marseilles.^ 

There he had now a certainty of the most cordial 
reception. For Mazarin his ally's fleet in the Mediter- 

' See Stoakes's despatches of January 9 and February 27, 1658, in 
Domestic Calendar, ii. 259, 307, and Thurloe, vii. 77 ; of March 29, Carte 
MSS. 73 ; of April, RawUnson MSS. A. 58. For the whole of his com- 
mand see the last part of Weale's Journal, nbi sup-a, which unfor- 
tunately comes to an abrupt end on March 9, 1658, at Porto Farina, where it 
says Stoakes had just finished careening his frigates ; Whetstone's Letter- 
hook from January 29 to August 23 in Eaiclinson MSS. C. 381 ; and the 
papers used at Whetstone's court-martial, Add. MSS. 1904, f. 1G9 et seg. 


ranean was too tempting a chance to be thrown away. 
Ever since the beginning of the year an expedition had 
been in preparation at Toulon for some miknown objec- 
tive. The Chevaher Paul was in charge of it, and the 
English Consul at Marseilles reported to Lockhart in 
Paris that it was believed to be for a renewal of the 
attempt on Naples.^ It is possible a diversion of this 
kind may have been contemplated. Mazarin at this 
time was being pressed from various quarters to renew 
his old attempt on the Two Sicilies, and particularly by 
the eccentric Queen of Sweden who w^as now in Eome, and 
in spite of her abdication could not keep her fingers from 
politics. Her and her friends he gave to understand that 
such an enterprise was out of the question, but others 
were allow^ed to believe that he had it still in his mind 
and was only waiting his opportunity. ^ At the moment 
his hands were full with Flanders and with operations 
against the Spanish possessions in the north of Italy. 
There he was supporting the Duke of Modena, who 
was operating against Mantua from the southward. 
Early in March a thousand French troops had landed for 
his support at Viareggio, the chief port of the Duchy of 
Lucca. Leave for the purpose had been granted by the 
Duke ; and Longland, in reporting the affair, appeared to 
believe his complacency was in some measure due to the 
presence of the English fleet. ' The Italian Princes,' he 
wrote, ' do all believe that the Protector's ships of war 
in these seas came chiefly to join with the French and 
carry on their designs against Spain.' ^ This was not true, 
but Mazarin was no man to miss the value of the 
impression or a chance of giving it emphasis. So soon, 
then, as he had finally fallen in with Cromwell's views as 
to the joint operations in Flanders, he ventured just at 
this time to request that some of the Mediterranean 
squadron might be permitted to act for a few weeks with 

' Aldworth to Lockhart, February 9-19, 1658 (Thurloe, vi. 787). 

2 Lettrcs de Mazarin, vol. viii. To Pere Dumeau, March 20, p. 689 ; to 
the Queen of Sweden, May 9, p. 709 ; to Card. Antonio Barberini, May 15, 
p. 714 ; to the Duke of Modena, June 19, p. 788 ; to the Duke of Castelnuovo, 
July 3, p. 747; to the Queen of Sweden, July 7, p. 749. 

3 Thurloe, vi. 824, 846, February 28, March 5, 1658. 

294 CROMWELL'S ^\A^R WITH SPAI^^ 1658 

the Chevalier Paul.^ The object is nowhere mentioned, 
but there can be Httle doubt that the request related more 
or less directly to the operations of the Duke of Modena. 

The idea which most strongly recommended itself to 
Mazarin at the moment was a fresh attempt to seize 
Orbitello and Porto Longone in Elba, and so block the line 
by which reinforcements passed from Spain to Milan. ^ 
This was probably the real intention, if indeed he had 
any at all, and the whole affair w^as not an astute piece 
of stage play. In any case the precise objective matters 
little for our purpose. Mazarin's chief anxiety was to 
prevent the Spaniards sending troops to reinforce Dun- 
kirk, which they were known to be about to attempt, 
and the obvious way to achieve his end, as he well knew, 
was to threaten an offensive in the Mediterranean. Crom- 
well, on Lockhart's advice, at once granted the request, 
and promised him the co-operation of five or six frigates 
for six weeks, w^hich w^as all Mazarin asked. They w^ere 
to be at or near Toulon by June 1, but it was not till 
May 31 that the orders were sent off to Stoakes.^ The 
French King, he was told, w^as about to undertake a 
naval expedition against the common enemy, and he was 
to detail five or six frigates to accompany the Toulon 
force ' to such place against the Spaniard as the admiral 
of the French fleet shall desire,' and to defend it against 
attack. These orders he received about the end of the 
month, and placed half his fleet under Captain Whet- 
stone for the purpose. With the rest he determined to 
proceed to Tripoli and complete the work he had left 

Whetstone at once took his squadron to Toulon ; but 
though it was a month behind the time Mazarin had 
originally specified, he found the French fleet in no 
condition to sail. A demonstration was made before 

' Lockhart to Thurloe (Thurloe, vi. 854, March 7, 1658, and vii. 70, 

2 Mazarin to Card. Barberini, February 5-15, 1658 {Lettres, viii. 679). 
Stoakes to , September 28, 1658 {Carte MSS. 73, f. 205 b). 

3 Thurloe, vii. 70, 155. 

4 Stoakes to Whetstone, June 29 {Eaiclinson MSS. 381 and Add. MSS. 
9304, f. 148). Same to Navy Commissioners (Dom. Cat. July 9). Same to 
Thurloe, June 21 (Thurloe, vii. 189), 


Marseilles, which was again in a state of revolt, and that 
was all; and when August came Whetstone began to 
clamour to be liberated from the irksome service.^ 

As it happened, orders for his release were already on 
their way. In the interval the battle of the Dunes had 
been fought, the Spanish power in the Netherlands was 
completely broken, and Mazarin was looking awry at the 
price he had had to pay for Cromwell's help. To see 
Dunkirk in English hands was small incentive to similar 
joint operations elsewhere, even if he had ever seriously 
intended them ; and when all was over his note to Lock- 
hart began to change. He grumbled over everything con- 
nected with the situation in Flanders, and informed the 
ambassador that he had practically given up his project 
in the Mediterranean and that it w^as not worth while to 
detain Whetstone's frigates any longer. He would prefer 
a joint expedition to intercept the Spanish treasure fleet 
later on. As a matter of fact the threat had served its 
purpose and Mazarin found he had been hunting with 
the lion.^ 

How powerful must have been the moral effect of 
Whetstone's junction wdth the Toulon expedition became 
manifest when we see how Stoakes fared at Tripoli. The 
bare appearance of his little force before the port was 
enough to secure him the same success he had achieved 
at Tunis, and a treaty similar to those existing with the 
other Barbary states was exacted.^ This was about the 
last news which Cromwell lived to receive from the 
Mediterranean, and so he saw his pohcy triumphant. 

Still there was no idea of letting go the hold. A week 
earlier he had ordered the recall of half Stoakes's squadron, 
bat not with any intention of abandoning the position he 
had taken up. It was rather with the view of increasing 
the efficiency of the Mediterranean fleet by substituting 
fresh ships for those that were spent. It was a pohcy 

' Whetstone to the Admu'alty Commissioners, August 3, 1658 {Dom. 
Cal. p. 108). A letter-book containing the whole of his correspondence at 
this time is in Rawlinsoyi MSS. C. 381. 

* Thurloe, vi. 369. Lockhart to Thurloe, July 8 {ibid. vii. 251, 306). 
Thurloe to Whetstone, July 27 {Dom, Cal. p. 101). 

' Admiralty Commissioners to Stoakes, September 16 {Dom. Cal p. 140), 


which Montague continued to press, and under Eichard 
Cromwell steps were taken to keep up Stoakes's strength.^ 
Throughout the winter, acting from Toulon and Tetuan, 
he was able very effectually to police the trade routes and 
capture every Spanish war ship that ventured to show 
herself. Communications between Italy and Spain were 
rendered almost impossible. In the early part of 1659 he 
even made an attempt to take his slender force round 
to Cadiz with the bold intention of attacking the out- 
ward-bound West Indian fleet, but persistent westerly 
weather prevented his getting out of the Straits till his 
stores were exhausted. He was further much hampered 
by the insubordination and discontent of his captains. 
The political troubles which were beginning to shake 
Cromwell's fabric to pieces spread to the fleet. Whet- 
stone had to be arrested and sent home, and another 
captain deserted with his ship.^ But Stoakes by a firm 
hand managed to keep his force effective. Still the end 
was near. On his return to Toulon in 1659 to refit, 
instead of meeting with the usual welcome, he found 
himself received with marked coldness and even indignity. 
The explanation was not long in declaring itself. The 
French no longer required him. They had gained all they 
wanted, for the Spaniards were clearly ready to accept 
their terms of peace. On May 8 an armistice was signed 
between the two powers ; on June 4 a preliminary 
treaty was agreed to, and a fortnight later Stoakes was 

From the first both Spain and France had each looked 
to the English alliance as a means to dictate peace to its 
adversary. The fact that Spain was so soon forced to accept 
the hard terms which France offered is usually attributed 
entirely to her disasters in Flanders. But, as we have seen, 
there was another and perhaps a more powerful considera- 
tion nearer home. The Spanish Court had always shown 
itself as indifferent to pressure in the Low Countries as 

' Thurloe, vii. 306. Dojn. Cal. p. 192, November 20-1, 1658. 
2 Raidinson MSS. C. 381, and Stoakes's de?patcti, September 28, 1658 
{Carte MSS. 73). 

• Dom. Cal June 17, 1658, p. 377. 


it was nervous about the command of the Mediterranean. 
The mere fact that five EngHsh frigates joined the French 
admiral for a few weeks was httle in itself, but as a threat 
of what might come it was in the last degree alarming. 
In the old war no amount of harrying of her oceanic 
commerce had served to bring Spain to her knees, but the 
same kind of danger in the Mediterranean was another 
thing. Longland probably only voiced the general opinion 
when he had recommended operations against Naples. ' I 
am confident,' said he, ' that the loss of this kingdom would 
be a greater blow to the Spaniard than the loss of the 
West Indies, for that affords him only money, but this both 
money and men.' ^ With the success of the French and 
English arms in Flanders, both Cromwell and Mazarin 
were free to resume their Mediterranean policy with vigour; 
and, should they choose to follow up the line which 
Whetstone's movement had indicated, there could be small 
hope of Spain retaining her Italian provinces. Her com- 
mand of the connecting seas was wholly lost ; her great 
empire lay exposed in disjointed fragments, incapable of 
mutual support ; and had she not recognised the hopeless- 
ness of the situation by the treaty of the Pyrenees, her 
ruin could hardly have been averted. It is impossible 
then to believe that, in taking the humiliating step she did, 
and making peace on Mazarin's terms, she was not largely 
influenced by what had been happening within the Straits, 
and that Stoakes's forgotten presence at Toulon, which 
then caused so much stir in the neighbouring Courts, did 
not do much to emphasise the meaning and reach of a 
British Mediterranean fleet. 

» Thurloe v. 93. 






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